How do you decide behind closed doors?

Johnson & Johnson has been linked to a women’s death by cancer, allegedly caused by the company’s Talc based baby powder. There are some 1200 other people lining up to make similar claims.

It’s also alleged that J&J knew about the health hazards from this product a long time ago and did nothing about it. I was especially keen to know about this case as I used talc-powder every day as a kid, until the age of 16 years old. After all, if it’s called ‘baby-powder’ it must be safe, right?

If you use big brand ‘health’ products, it’s worth remembering that profits and health are two outcomes that rarely align. In most businesses of the J&J scale, stock value and the bottom line come before anything else. It costs fortunes to establish a product in the market place, and rarely should a snafu like cancer implications get in the way of making that cost back.

What a shame that J&J and similar companies (anyone heard of Monsanto?) don’t use two simple bench marks before offering a product to market,

  1. First provide it for the intended period of use to yourself, your kids and the people you love most.
  2. Make your claims, promises and guarantees under the assumption that one-day, in front of the whole world (and the evidence it has at hand) you will be called upon to stand by those claims and be judged for telling the truth.

I think these two decision ‘frames’ are useful for every sane person on the planet, especially when we’re faced with choices behind closed doors.

Though I mostly agree with Shakespeare’s claim that, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”, some companies might do well to think a little longer on the good and bad choices they make.