Medtronic Inc. leads the world in meeting medical technology demands of the chronically ill and currently serves more than 2.5 million people each year with its products and therapies. The company employs 25,000 people in 120 countries with worldwide operations grouped in three organizations: the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe. Gary Floss is vice president for Corporate Quality at Medtronic and a former Chair of the Panel of Judges for the Baldrige Award. In his April 5 presentation, he shared with Tech faculty and students several key ingredients for successfully managing a global corporation in today’s business environment.
Key Business Factors
There are areas of the business where corporations must focus their strategies and alliances. Foremost is attention to customers, those who receive Medtronic products and the medical professionals who use them, those who influence the sale of products, and employees who form the value chain that meets and exceeds customer needs and expectations. Another key factor is the integration of a myriad of advanced medical technologies into products and processes. Medtronic stays abreast of the newest key technologies including sensors and smart devices, visualization and navigation technologies, diagnostics, biotechnology, electromagnetic therapy and advanced materials, and tissue engineering. Stringent regulatory procedures and guidelines provided by both national and international administrations must be recognized and complied with.
Keeping the Product Pipeline Full
The value chain process requires the input of all Medtronic employees in defining, designing, producing, marketing, delivering, and providing products and support services for its various offerings. Medtronic continues to lead its competitors in market share, and attributes its success to implementation of the value chain concept. The “Kano Model” used by Medtronic emphasize the importance of not only meeting basic customer needs, but also of delighting customers. At Medtronic, the Kano Model has been deployed in an innovative way. It is used to monitor the time interval during which products with features and performance characteristics that delight customers move into the stage where those characteristics are routinely expected by the customers. The transition time influences the nature and pace of developing the next generation of products.
The Role of the Quality Journey
A customer-focused quality program was launched in 1990 with three key tenets:
- Meet and exceed customer expectations
- Continuous process improvement
- Employee involvement and empowerment
The balance between these three tenets is very delicate—too much emphasis on any one element creates the potential for damage to future growth and prosperity. The Medtronic Performance Excellence Criteria (MPEC) is based on the Baldrige Model and includes the three tenets listed above. Medtronic’s goal is to promote activities and people working together to remove roadblocks and focus energies on delivering current information through the most technically advanced means possible.
The People Side of the Equation
From the beginning, customer service has been an essential component of Medtronic operations. A hands-on, person-to-person customer service tradition continues today with a United States sales team that has doubled in size during the past 10 years. Hundreds of technical support staff representatives are available to address the concerns of patients and customers. Medtronic takes a systems-based approach in outlining success factors for effective management of the company. Indicated below are some of the factors Medtronic deems critical for promoting successful communication and management:
- Leadership within management and the community
- Customer focus
- Information and analysis
- Human resource focus
- Operational effectiveness
E-Commerce and the Future
“Driven by the stunning impact of the Internet, the information revolution of the 21st century will have as great an impact on the way people communicate, transact, and live as the industrial revolution did in the first half of the 20th century.” -Bill George, former CEO, Medtronic, Inc.Medtronic has already created a vision for the year 2010 that includes a proposal for addressing the frustrations of patients under managed care and the time constraints forced upon the doctor/patient appointment regimen. Medtronic proposes a web site that addresses the systematic management of chronic disease and the challenges facing both patient and doctor in treating chronic disease. The web site will be the result of an alliance between WebMD, Microsoft, and Landmark Technologies, with the goal of providing revolutionary information accessibility to all interested parties.