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Integrating lean coaching principles into Medtronic with lean six sigma

As the world’s leading medical device company known for its breakthrough technologies and solutions, Medtronic wanted to bring together the principles of coaching and integrate them with Lean Six Sigma. They asked Performance Consultants to design and deliver a leading edge global learning programme that could be deployed at scale, within an 8-week deadline.

Pharmaceutical employee reviewing a skeleton

This programme ensures empathy, heart and purpose is right at the centre of Lean, and gives practitioners a turbo boost to improve performance.

By equipping them with coaching skills that perfectly complement what they are already doing, both Lean practitioners and their teams feel more empowered, more engaged and able to do more with less.”

Senior HR Manager, Medtronic
Caroline Healy

Employees who know they’re supported are going to be more committed to the organization, and we will see that return reflected in employee engagement”

VP, Medtronic
Denise King

Our Approach


Working closely with Medtronic’s Diabetes division, Enterprise stakeholders and their Coaching Centre of Excellence, Performance Consultants co-created a modern and leading edge global learning programme that could be deployed at scale.

The new year-end performance reviews eliminated the traditional rating-based performance management system. Medtronic wanted to go back to basics – providing employees with feedback on their performance and supporting them in achieving their goals. As a result they moved away from competitive assessment and towards providing real time performance feedback, coaching and development sessions for employees.

Performance Consultants designed and delivered a practical 5 step training programme based on coaching mindset and behaviours to leaders created out of the principles of Awareness & Responsibility, and the GROW model to enable individuals and teams to find and implement their own solutions.

We co-designed and delivered 90-minute live experiential interactive Virtual sessions for 100 leaders at a time, supported by podcasts and workbooks. The content was later wrapped up as a training program and deployed as a learning campaign to all 10,000 people leaders within Medtronic.

The program focused on the practical application of coaching to Lean management. For example, it included a game which replicates a typical production line where a specific output has been requested and where penalties will be incurred for missed quality targets. Within it, continuous improvement of performance is a requirement just as it would be in the workplace.

The aim was to provide an opportunity to practise coaching skills and behaviours immediately, in an environment that reflects normal working conditions rather than a traditional training room, as well as demonstrate the impact on performance and learning for participants.

The enterprise loved it as they realised that a coaching style of leadership is the perfect complement to Lean as the core principle of Lean is continuous improvement. This is in perfect alignment with one of coaching’s cornerstones – learning.

In Lean, the process for achieving this continuous improvement is through:

  • Gaining awareness of what is/isn’t working
  • Using the individuals and teams within the direct production area as experts
  • Identifying ways to build further on strengths and improve areas of weakness

This mirrors Performance Consultants’ approach to coaching within the workplace.

The programme was rolled out to all 10,000 leaders globally.

Enquire about this program

Together, Lean and coaching create a virtuous circle of unparalleled performance improvement. Organizations and teams which use Lean principles can create the ideal conditions for a true learning environment and maximum performance if they also bring in a coaching style of leadership.”

Performance Consultants co-founder
Sir John Whitmore

The Results

Participants reported noticing where coaching skills could be applied in their day-to-day work and said they felt more equipped to facilitate everyday interactions, built new awareness in their teams and increased their sense of responsibility to take personal action.

Despite the initial concerns of eliminating the rating-based system, employee engagement surveys and focus groups have shown that the whole organization is more satisfied with the new process.

Managers now use a coaching style of leadership to support employees to achieve their objectives and pursue individual career development. Performance reviews are no longer about managers giving a rating; employees are coached on how to improve future behaviours. Medtronic calls this new process “Performance Acceleration” as it focused on an individual’s performance in relation to specific business objectives. Employees are encouraged and coached on creating objectives that are aligned with critical business activities.

Medtronic has also added a recognition program called “eMpower” to drive 3 key elements of employee engagement: fostering participation, recognizing performance, and maximizing employee potential.