- Exceed expectations for innovation skill levels.
- Built a plan for resource management to ensure staff skills more closely matched skills required.
- Skills Assessment
With two prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards to its name and a year-over-year growth rate of more than 15 percent for most of its history, world-class medical device manufacturer Medrad seems an unlikely candidate for innovation improvement.
But Medrad has never been content to be good enough. While good companies look for problems but don’t necessarily have a comprehensive method to fix them, great companies relentlessly look for problems and just as relentlessly try to fix them. This attitude attracts top talent, which in turn supports the drive toward excellence.
As part of its drive to excel, the innovation organization at Medrad (now integrated into Bayer Radiology and Interventional, a business of Bayer HealthCare) contracted PDC in 2006 to help analyze whether it had the right mix of innovation skills and the right people in the right jobs. The organization was doing well, but wanted to do better. PDC conducted a skills assessment and applied its innovation skills matrix.
One hundred percent of the innovation staff—48 people consisting of a combination of the advanced development, business development, and IP legal groups—completed a primary skills assessment; 19 of those also completed a secondary assessment. Medrad discovered that while overall skill levels were adequate, there was room for improvement in specific areas, as follows:
Leaders tended to be weak in project skill levels.
- Strategists were weak in analytics.
- Implementers were weak in simulation and modeling skills.
- Staff ratios were close to optimal, but there was room for improvement.
- The creator group was somewhat larger than the implementer group.
- Some people currently in the creator category scored higher in non-creator skills than in creator skills.
- There was an identical mix of leaders/strategists, but the overall percentage was somewhat high.
Medrad decided to adjust creator and implementer head counts, which the company accomplished through a combination of new hires and shifting people who scored highly on creator skills but were not in creator job positions. The assessment further broke down skills by job title within category so Medrad could adjust senior vs. junior staff ratios to ensure the right mix of experience and open minds.
Based on the results of the skills assessment, Medrad was able to build a plan for resource management that changed both types of hires and job classifications so that staff skills more closely matched the skills required.
Consistent innovation and wise management of innovation resources—including the skills that ensure innovation success—contributes to Medrad’s continued success as an industry-leading firm.