Authentic Organizational Values at Smith & Nephew: The Greatest of these is …

by cv harquail on November 20, 2009


That was what I saw when I went to the home page of Smith & Nephew: UK & Ireland. I saw love, even thought that’s not what Smith & Nephew said was one of their organization’s core values.200911201043.jpg

Smith & Nephew is a medical products company that makes, among many things, wound dressings. I went to their site this morning, as part of my effort to learn more about the organizations where’s readers come from.200911201040.jpg

When I landed on their page, I saw this lovely photo. It is accompanied by a brief story of Mario and how he found Smith & Nephew’s product, Anticoat, in his effort to help ease the pain of his chronically-ill wife.

This photo and the story sit right next to the organization’s self description: “We are committed to the advancement of clinically cost-effective woundcare.”

Is “woundcare” really what Smith & Nephew is committed to?

Now, on many websites for pharmaceutical firms, medical supply firms, and hospitals, you get the typical stories of “how our products helped out customers”. And you get the typical statements asserting that the organization’s goal is “helping improve people’s lives”. (That’s Smith & Nephew’s stated mission.)  I’m sure that these statements are reasonably true. And they are often experienced as being kind of superficial… there’s not too much distinctive about “helping improve people’s lives”. Lots of companies do that. So what’s new?

I saw something else at the Smith & Nephew home page.

Look closely at that photograph.

Look at the hands. What do they depict? Partnership. Caring. Love.

Not to get all sentimental and stuff, but this company isn’t about clinically-cost effective wound care. If this picture tells us anything, it tells us that Smith & Nephew, somewhere, deep inside itself, is about love.

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. I recognize that the photo was taken by an artist, that the site was created by professional communicators, and that the messages Smith & Nephew intend to send are deliberate, strategic, etc. And still, for me, some other message slipped through.

Can you see it in this photo?

Underneath the ‘clinical cost effectiveness’ and the ‘improving lives’, is there love?

That’s one of the things that makes me believe in organizations.

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