Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Unhappiness at Medtronic, Trouble in the Sand Box!

Recently one of our loyal and trusty readers linked me to a site that for all intense and purposes is one of the most unprofessional forums in cyberspace. So I proceeded to read some of the posts and gasped at the animus that is directed at Mr. Medtronic himself, Bill Hawkins.

The Spine Blogger is not that far off when he says that so many of our legacy companies have lost their innovation, out-of the box thinking, and moral compass. Even the smaller companies have started to behave that way. Why is that? Could it be that publicly traded companies no longer have people running companies? I know that sounds ridiculous to our readers, but, what happens when you are more concerned with your own personal portfolio and compensation than you are about the present and future of your organization? Non-sense cries out some CEO! Medtronic sounds very much like Stryker when you talk, listen and read what their employees say. You know, drink the kool-aid and remember if any analysts come into the booth just direct them over to PR.

It seems that "Buffalo Bill" has everyones knickers in a spit. Having laid off 1,800 it seems that the Board has taken care of "BB" for nothing more than a mediocre performance, at least by Medtronic standards. The funny thing is that the blood sucking analysts believe all the non-sense that Mr. Bill feeds them. Yes, there has been an exodus of many talented distributors from the organization, some reluctantly, some bought out, and some because they just got tired of working for a publicly held company.

Remember, what I said in a previous blog, once the darling of the industry, today they are the angry child. So who's betting that "Buffalo Bill" will be riding off into the sunset in the near future? Remember when he was quoted as saying that he is looking for innovate leaders, maybe he was talking about replacing himself? The Spine Blogger wants to know what its readers think?


  1. Perhaps Medtronic has gotten too big to be nimble and paperwork-creep has set in. Larger companies have more to lose and are willing to take less risks. They create more paperwork and document processes to cover their steps, suffocating innovation. Another reason is that the regulatory environment has intensified as well as public criticism of big medical continues to increase(particularly for Medtronic), so companies are willing to take less risk. I’m sure there are plenty of innovative ideas at Medtronic, but the increasingly difficult regulatory pathway, the repetitive and redundant paperwork, and with the possible risks associated with poor outcomes make this inefficient – management is simply not willing to take a risk in light of possible bad press, not to mention souring investor relations. If something bad happens the press has a field day – today’s med companies are guilty until proven innocent, and even if they are innocent there is almost never a rebuttal published to any significant degree. It is much easier to buy a company that can relatively quicker establish IP, regulatory clearance and who already have existing customers. Also, if they (the purchaser) come across bad press they can always put the blame on the purchased company – the Plus-Orthopaedics purchase by Smith and Nephew was a good example of this. Danek was a startup with a clear vision with less to lose and was willing to take more risks, and it was a different time in the industry. Thoughts?

  2. Keep an eye on US Spine; two more jumped ship this week. Trouble in paradise...

  3. Joseph, can you elaborate on what you mean when you write two more jumped ship?

  4. Spine Blogger makes good sense. The move to 2 business units sets Bil up for a graceful exit and handoff to the heir apparent, Mr. O'Connell. DeMane was it but he got impatient, or depressed, and left. Watching Bill answer the "Doesn't this add back a layer of management?" question was like watching a politician. "Yes, I added a layer, but not really." Next question.

    My read is the MDT big Ops folks are allowing the support functions to federalize the whole corporation. In the name of benchmarking and continuous improvement, we are giving up our very culture and business model of success to be more politically correct and therefore more attractive to Wall Street.

    Examples: The degreed engineer "club card" requirement categorically excludes many experienced superior performers from positions and therefore promotions, squelching innovations, and killing individual initiative. This limits and detracts from our critical ability to get the best person for the job.

    Diversity goals are admirable and right. How do you reach them when your pool of applicants is all one kind of fish? If there are literally no POC applicants? Next step is to make it managers' objectives, tied to pay and compensation. This pushes the manager towards filling out his dance card with the right folks, and away from getting the best person for the job.

    Just go ahead and change the sign out front to "J&J".

    I welcome your comments, challenging or otherwise.

  5. Maybe the problem is design flaws in there product I have had several issues with there products and when you start to look at different issues from defibs to insulin to infusion pumps. Maybe its the quote consultants fees,trips and gifts. To doctors. One that has broken so many times you would think the doctor would like to take it out and try something else. No they want to fix it. Remember people who continue with these products have to have them refilled at a high cost as well as buying medtronics products to do the procedure on the refills also you have the money the doctor makes and the hospitals. The 246 million payed off on the defibs plus the other issues with there other products makes you wonder, I have done alot of research on this company and somebody is hiding something I think Congress did order them as of 2011 to say who where getting the payoffs gifts and trips