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Strategyzer & Medtronic: Redefining Customer-Centric Innovation

Medtronic is the world’s largest stand alone medical technology development company. See how a team inside the organization transformed its habits to focus squarely on the customer. We’ll explain how Strategyzer’s tools, methodologies, and training helped to set Medtronic’s Spine & Biologicals division up for success.

Grady Davis is Medtronic’s Sr. Global Marketing Director of the Spines & Biologicals division. Davis tells Strategyzer that his team needed to change the way they thought about new products. It was common for the Spines & Biologicals division to simply build a product and just assumed the customer wanted it.

“We have a lot of smart people out there making all kinds of products and saying, ‘Look what I made, go sell it’. There wasn’t enough of ‘Is this what the customer wants?’”

— Grady Davis

Davis and his team at Medtronic worked with Strategyzer to transform how the Spines & Biologicals division thought about their products and value to customers.

Alignment within the internal team would get everyone on the same page. A shared language would allow cross functional team members to understand the vocabulary and process for designing, testing, and validating new business ideas. This shared understanding amongst the team would arm Medtronic to think about creating real customer value, while also thinking outside of the existing business model.

It was important that the Spines & Biologicals division at Medtronic achieved these objectives. “If we keep doing the exact same things, you’re ignoring the reality of the business. We have to do something different, take the chance, and something’s gotta change,” said Davis to the Strategyzer team.

The program participants were a diverse mix of internal roles from sales, marketing, engineering, and hospital administrators. More importantly, part of the Medtronic program featured the involvement of actual customers from the business in the form of surgeons.

The team participated in Strategyzer’s online course. Over the course of four to five weeks, participants completed 10 hours worth of content in quick 30-minute modules. In their own time, the Medtronic team learned how to design, test, and validate value propositions and business models.

In addition to the online course, Medtronic hosted a series of customer collaboration workshops. The sessions featured surgeon led workshops conducted with Strategyzer’s Value Proposition Canvas, as well as Medtronic facilitated workshops with surgeon attendees. This form of collaboration was an eye opener for the team.

“We collaborate all the time, but the structure we did this time made it very different,” says Davis. “A lot of it was ‘We're going to build something’, instead of going all the way back and asking ‘Why are you doing that job in the first place?’”

“These exercises taught us valuable lessons without even needing a product.”

— says Davis to Strategyzer

So what can the team at Medtronic do now that it couldn’t do before? Davis recounted how the exercises enforced a customer-first attitude within the team. The collaborative and actionable workshop structure has resulted in more time spent listening to the customer, rather than assuming for them. The sessions taught the engineering tem the value of prioritizing projects based on customer priorities. Davis’s marketing team was able to strengthen its value by uncovering new potential business streams for the company to think about.  

What’s next for Medtronic? The approach to be more systematic and customer-centric with business innovation has been expanded to two more global business units. The Tumour & Trauma divisions are now taking part in the same programs in an effort to level up their internal skills.

The next challenge for the company is to tackle a reshape of existing business models in an industry that is very rigid and mature. This will allow Medtronic to fully design, test, and validate new business streams that look beyond the company’s existing business model structure.

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