As anyone who reads my posts may have noticed by now, I’m fascinated by cultural artifacts–the visible, tangible evidence of what an organization believes and values, often in the form of office decor or signs. Cultural artifacts can be a powerful way to express and reinforce expectations for what it means to belong to a particular organization. They can also help to create a strong brand identity that resonates both with employees and external audiences.
Having been an employee of Johnson & Johnson for many years, I have to say they do one of the best jobs of any company I’ve seen in expressing their corporate culture through artifacts. J&J is well-known for its Credo, which Robert Wood Johnson wrote in 1943 as a way to explicitly share the values that guide the company’s decisions.
As an employee, you receive annual training on how to apply the Credo to business challenges. Leaders repeatedly reference the Credo in presentations both internally and externally, and explain decisions in terms of Credo values. And copies of the Credo, formatted in an instantly recognizable style, abound in each J&J facility. Not only do some employees have personal copies in their work areas, but every office has its own copy prominently displayed in the lobby:
The presence of the Credo in every J&J facility makes a bold and clear statement: This is what our company believes, and what our employees are expected to live into each day. It’s one of the best examples of a consistently applied set of cultural artifacts I’ve seen, and one that has shaped the way I think as a professional.