This paper will explore the strengths and weaknesses of Intuitive Surgical. This paper will analyze which leadership model(s) and practices would encourage innovation considering the global context of the organization. This paper will also assess how the information in the Intuitive Surgical case study does or does not exemplify the five discovery skills. Lastly, in this paper I will assess the actions that the leaders of this organization took to shape culture and processes to be more innovative.
The leadership model(s) and practices that would encourage innovation considering the global context of Intuitive Surgical Intuitive Surgical is a company that has led the country as the global technology leader in robotic assisted minimally-invasive surgery (Hoffman 2012). Their main product is the da Vinci Surgical System which is a robotic surgical system designed to perform urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, and general surgeries that are much less invasive than traditional surgeries (Hoffman 2012). This company was definitely a leader within their market.
Each of the different leadership models support innovation within organizations in some form or fashion. In order to grasp how, one must first develop an understanding of innovation and leadership. Innovation has many meanings, but on a broad scale one can say that innovation is thinking outside the box. Leadership is a bit harder to describe because it is best understood when seen. To put leadership in words according to Doyle and Smith, leaders often become visible when an innovative response is needed (2001).
Now that we have an idea of what these words mean, one of the leadership models that would be of great benefit to Intuitive Surgical is the transformational leadership. This leadership model serves as a role model by gaining the trust and confidence of peers and employees. By stating future goals, developing plans to achieve these goals and displaying an innovative edge, transformational leaders are generally successful (Bass, 1985). The transformation leader gets its followers to transcend there own self-interest for the sake of the organization (Doyle & Smith 2001).
As for any organization, for innovation to take place they need caring people who are will to commit to the greater good of the organization, as well as creative people who have the capacity to turn ideas into practical products and services. Therefore, with Intuitive Surgical patents expiring in the near future they should channel the transformational leadership model so they can have a great chance of building innovators within its organizations. The second leadership model that could benefit Intuitive Surgical and help with innovation in organizations is behavioral leadership.
This type of leadership moved away from who leaders where to what leaders did. If they continue doing what they are doing and coming up with ideas that make patients happy with very minimal errors, this companies acquirement of innovative employees will rise along with its products. How the information in the Intuitive Surgical case study does or does not exemplify the five discovery skills In The DNA of Innovators, The discovery skills are the new ideas introduced by the innovator who did the five skills of: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting.
Intuitive Surgical did use some of these skills very well. The first one I noticed them using was the networking skill. According to Dyer, Gregerson & Christensen, the idea networker, “networks to actively tap into new ideas and insights by talking with people who have diverse ideas and perspectives. ” They used this skill when they decided to merge with Computer Motion Inc in 2003. This merge helped them to cancel out their biggest competition and lead country with their technological advancements. Associating, as Dyer, Gregerson, & Christensen (2011) stated, “happens as the brain tries to make sense of novel inputs.
Associating helps innovators discover new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas (pg 23). ” I did not notice Intuitive Surgical use of this discovery skill from the case study. In The DNA of Innovators, “Innovators ask questions to understand how things really are today, why they are those ways, how they might be changed or disrupted (Dyer, Gregerson & Christensen 2011). Intuitive surgical definitely answered a lot of questions by creating the da Vinci robot.
With this robot they had to ask and answer a host of questions in order to acquire the precision of their device as they did. Innovators use the observing skill by carefully watching the world around them so that what they see can help them build ideas for new ways to do things. Intuitive Surgical used this skill also when they came up with their robot. Computer Motion Inc, who they merged with, was the first company to jump into the robotic surgical field which in turn means that Intuitive Surgical watch this method and basically grew their device from a Computer Motions initial idea.
Experimenting is used by innovators when they traveling to new places, seeking new information and trying new things ideas. Given that Intuitive Surgical is a leader on a global scale, this company definitely did a lot of experimenting. Also, the fact that their invention started off being used for laparoscopic surgery and went on to be used in six other surgical procedures shows that this company had done a ton of experimenting.
The actions that the leaders of Intuitive Surgical took to shape culture and processes to be more innovative Intuitive Surgical took a lot of steps to make their organization more innovative. As I stated previously, merging with their biggest competitor was genius. This move alone helped them to gain a comfortable seat at the top of the ladder as global technology leader. Also, taking the step to put patents on their work secured their spot at the top for years to come. This company has helped a monopoly in the robotic-assisted MIS market.
Now that the patents are due to expire the company has had time to come up with bigger, better ideas that they can put into play after the expiration has hit which could possibly acquire new patents. That way they can continue leading their competitors and protecting their development for another x amount of years. In 2008 Annual Report Letter to the Shareholders, Intuitive Surgical emphasized that their goal is to “take surgery beyond the limits of the human hand” (Hoffman 2012).