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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Case Study: Gojo

Gojo Industries (hereafter Gojo – and the suppliers of hand cleansers you see around campus) was established in 1946 after developing a hand cleaner that would not be detrimental to human skin in any way. This was co-developed with Kent State University.  From that time until the 1980s, Gojo developed a range of sanitising products, led by market demand from the health care industries. In the late 1990s, a consumer product was developed from these business oriented products – the PURELL Hand Sanitser, which was one of the first waterless hygiene cleaning products. This rapidly became the no.1 hand sanitiser in the USA.

The success of this product was not easy to achieve for Gojo, as they had to battle resistance from health care workers, convinced that water based cleansing was the best way to safeguard against germs and the spread of disease. Gojo worked hard to reshape public perception, especially in the medical field. Presently, organisations such as CDC (Centre for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organisation) support the use of waterless sanitisers in their hygiene guidelines.  Gojo is at present a medium sized (<500 employees) organisation and remains family owned.

In 2010, Gojo set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of delivering well-being to one billion people every day. This target is calculated in terms of sanitising events (such as a single handwash) and if achieved for Gojo, would represent significant growth in the business and in its social impact. For example, a significant proportion of the 760,000 children that die every year from Diarrhoea could be saved, just by more effective hand washing (estimated between 18 and 36% more lives could be saved). This could be especially important in countries where water is also scarce.

Whilst the BHAG was an exciting aim for the management team, it was also a problem. As a commercial organisation, embracing this corporate aim must be undertaken through appropriate actions and investments so as to secure a return on that investment. Market development, growth and brand recognition are expensive activities for an organisation. In addition to the BHAG, Gojo’s management had also set the target for 2020, of becoming a ‘sustainable organisation’ by embedding sustainability in everything it did. It would seem that the achievement of the BHAG and becoming a sustainable organisation, are implicitly tied strategic aims.

Whilst Gojo was a US market leader, it is relatively unknown outside of that home country. So even if every American used a Gojo product, the BHAG would not be achieved (it would still be approximately 66% below target). In addition, the strategic aim would require Gojo to increase its competitive exposure to organisations nearly 50 times its own size (such as UniLever and Proctor & Gamble).

Achieving the sustainable organisation goal would require sustainability to be a consideration of every organisational decision and action. Sustainability then becomes one of the attributes within any initiative or project. It seems inevitable that team management engagement is a requirement to achieve these aims. Moreover, Gojo, through its proactive view of health and improving sanitisation, recruited staff who typically are keen to improve a product to achieve these aims. The combined strategic aims therefore also represented an opportunity to access employee innovative potential – providing an appropriate change management process can be identified and implemented – which can then further enhance the profitability of the organisation.  

Exploratory Questions

As a change consultant you may wish to consider the following:

·         Would sustainability spur innovation, collaboration and growth needed to deliver on the BHAG?
·         How can Gojo ensure that every team member sees that sustainability is critical to his or her performance success?
·         How can Gojo present team members at every level of the company with opportunities to contribute to practice?
·         How can Gojo alter product and process designs and methods that have been in place for decades?
·         How can Gojo develop an organisation that effectively embeds sustainability into all decision making?
·         How can Gojo manage growth so that the achievement of the BHAG is supported, but not driven by, profit making activities – especially when it is a relatively small organisation now seeking to compete globally?
·         How can Gojo educate more customers on the value of the waterless hygiene method to achieve the aims of the BHAG?
·         What radical innovations would be needed by 2020 to continue to drive the BHAG?
·         What might Gojo need to do to ensure that sustainability is embedded in every part of its value chain, each function, each department and each employee?

·         How can Gojo access employee creativity and innovation more consistently and effectively?

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