HRM Case Study: Medtronic & Sales Training

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  • 0:03 History of Medtronic…
  • 1:15 Medtronic Training Program
  • 2:20 Impacts on the Sales Process
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Noel Ransom

Noel has taught college Accounting and a host of other related topics and has a dual Master's Degree in Accounting/Finance. She is currently working on her Doctoral Degree.

This lesson will provide history, background, and context on the Medtronic Corporation, manufacturers of pacemakers. Learn how this company improved sales through training and development.

History of Medtronic Corporation

The Medtronic Corporation was founded as a medical repair shop by Earl Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie in 1949. Earl Bakken had been an electrical engineer with a hobby of repairing lab equipment at a Minnesota hospital. He was so good at medical repair work that people began to ask him to design and develop new equipment as well.

During his time in Minnesota, Earl Bakken worked with Dr. Walton Lillehei, who studied the effects of open heart surgery. Earl and Dr. Lillehei developed a pacemaker that was smaller, easier to use, and powered by batteries. The original pacemaker was used outside of the body and had to be plugged into an electrical outlet.

In the 1960s, the folks at Medtronic developed a pacemaker that could be implanted in the body and introduced a transvenous pacing system using leads that can move through a person's veins to their heart without opening the chest. Pretty soon, demand for pacemakers grew, and the company's sales became one-third of its revenue. To meet growing demand in international markets, the company expanded globally and now has more than 250 sales offices, manufacturing facilities, and research centers.

Medtronic Training Program

As demand for Medtronic's products grew, the need for additional employees became critical. The leaders of Medtronic implemented a training program that focused on the elimination of waste and cost savings. When Medtronic acquired a new facility in 2009, they introduced a lean training program that focused on the identification and elimination of waste. Each class consisted of 20 employees who were not only from manufacturing but came from all departments within the organization. Eventually, the lean training events expanded to include Medtronic suppliers, who began to incorporate the same lean training at their company.

One of the ways the sales team was successful was through video presentation to display how pacemakers and other medical products were implemented. The company also began to train employees to conduct and participate in Kaizen events. Kaizen events gather the owners of a process together to understand the existing process and find ways to improve it. They usually last for a short period, typically in a series of days, and are an efficient way to quickly improve processes.

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