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CIO of healthcare giant drives the need for speed

Dan Roberts and Brian P. Watson | Dec. 18, 2015
Channeling deep experience in leading change programs, Stuart McGuigan is reshaping Johnson & Johnson’s digital approach to healthcare.

mcguigan stuart confessions

In mid-July, on Johnson & Johnson’s second-quarter earnings call for 2015, Group Worldwide Chairman Sandi Peterson outlined some of the critical IT initiatives that would help the $74 billion company compete — and win — in the rapidly evolving world of digital healthcare.

Included in her remarks was a simple statement: “We are at a tipping point where technology is becoming the medium through which healthcare can become a more effective and efficient system.”

That might be an understatement, given the drastic changes we’ve seen in recent years. But for CIOs in the healthcare ecosystem, it’s a clear nod to one of their best opportunities to drive change and create new value for their businesses. Leading that charge for J&J is Stuart McGuigan, who has built one of the most impressive IT leadership resumes of his generation.

“We need to be well-prepared for the increasingly digital world of health technology, internally, and that’s helped us double down on our efforts to digitize, move to cloud, to more rapidly adopt Agile frameworks, and to heighten our sense of urgency in developing world-class IT capabilities,” McGuigan told us in a recent interview.

We’ve spoken with several acclaimed CIOs about the drastic changes technology is bringing about in many industries (including healthcare). And we chronicled some astounding stories of transformation in our book, Confessions of a Successful CIO.

One of the key characteristics common among those CIOs is the ability — and enthusiasm — to seek the art of the possible, not just power through unavoidable challenges. Among other key lessons learned in his more than 10 years as a CIO at Fortune 100 companies like Liberty Mutual and CVS Caremark, McGuigan has firmly embraced IT’s capability to demonstrate, in his words, “a sense of what’s possible.”

Yes, investing in and using a variety of advancing technologies will help serve patients and practitioners in new ways. But in our discussion, McGuigan focused on the need for speed, efficiency, and consistency — three cornerstones not only for how he has revamped J&J’s technology operations, but also for the company, as declared in its more than 70-year-old credo.

Connecting to company mission

That credo, written by former Chairman Robert Wood Johnson in 1943, can be seen throughout J&J’s offices and heard in remarks by every senior executive. It focuses on the company’s responsibility to its employees, the communities in which it operates, and its shareholders. But first come patients and practitioners.

Many companies have mission statements, but few must encapsulate the aims and objectives of a company like J&J, which boasts about 126,500 employees across more than 265 operating companies in more than 60 countries. Outlining some core pieces of J&J’s digital health push, McGuigan moved between business objectives like speed and consistency and technology opportunities like analytics and cloud, without skipping a beat—but more importantly, he drew a direct connection between those initiatives and the company’s mission of improving patients’ lives.


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