2015 Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award Winner: Becton Dickinson
Ellen Strahlman, MD, MHSc
Originally published: 2015 (PDMA Visions Magazine, Issue 3, 2015 • Vol 39 • No 3)
Read time: 5 minutes
The only innovation award of its kind, the Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI) award honors an organization that has demonstrated five or more years of sustained and quantifiable innovation success. This year, Becton Dickinson (BD) was recognized for its vast, innovative contributions to the health care industry as a leading medical technology company.
While BD’s products and services expand over myriad subject matter and research goals within the everevolving health care sector, its commitment to innovation has remained consistent throughout the years. Ellen Strahlman, M.D., M.H.Sc., executive vice president of Research and Development and chief medical officer at BD, provides a first-hand account of the company and its culture of innovation.
Becton Dickinson at a Glance
Today, BD’s innovative solutions are focused on:
- Improving medication management and patient safety;
- Supporting infection prevention practices;
- Supporting surgical and interventional procedures;
- Improving drug delivery;
- Aiding anesthesiology and respiratory care;
- Advancing cellular research and applications;
- Enhancing the diagnosis of infectious diseases and cancers; and
- Supporting the management of diabetes.
BD comprises more than 45,000 associates in 50 countries.
Helping all people live healthy lives by advancing the quality, accessibility, safety and affordability of health care around the world.
In 2015, BD welcomed CareFusion and its products into the BD family of solutions.
Becton Dickinson (BD) is a leading medical technology company that partners with customers and stakeholders to address many of the world’s most pressing and evolving health needs. Founded in 1897, the company has a longstanding and proud tradition of innovation, including many “firsts” for health care. BD’s innovation methodology ensures that our entire organization is consistently focused on developing solutions for the top challenges faced by customers, patients and the health care industry.
At BD, we have worked hard to implement our vision of an innovation work system that drives a cultural and capability shift to enable growth outside our existing businesses. To drive innovation, we have established new accountable structures, trained new behaviors, established new processes to ensure open and honest debate, and defined a rigorous yet dynamic multi-stage innovation process built for speed, efficiency and maturity-appropriate decision making that created a common organizational innovation language. This is a multidisciplinary system incorporating the necessary structures, behaviors and processes to appropriately evaluate and nurture opportunities that are new and unique to BD and, potentially, the health care environment. The hard work of embedding new innovation skill and capability in an established organization like BD is an ongoing process.
A common language, accountable government structures, dedicated resources, a culture of open debate and external focus have enabled a sustainable, enterprisewide innovative organization that can evolve over time. In developing our innovation system, we worked closely with the world’s foremost innovation thought leaders to incorporate best practices (Harvard, CEB, John Kotter and others) and develop a customized, continuously evolving, innovation work system that addresses our unique challenge — a long history of success in transforming the health care ecosystem. In 2013, to further strengthen and drive functional excellence, the Research & Development, medical affairs and innovation groups were brought together as the Office of Science, Medicine and Technology (OSMT) under my direct leadership. The OSMT’s mission is “To serve the company as a science-led, medically informed, technologydriven organization dedicated to bringing relevant and valuable solutions to research and health care systems.”
BD is on a journey to move beyond commercialization of individual products to develop integrated software and dataenabled systems with complementary services that improve our customers’ ability to drive efficiency and patient outcomes.
We have also deployed dedicated, full-time resources from our corporate strategic innovation group and corporate strategic marketing along with key members from our OSMT community to perform environmental scanning and to deeply understand and assess the changing health care landscape. These innovation resources are actively immersed and engaged in voice of the customer, environment trends, key health care symposiums, leading health care analysts, key opinion leaders and global health care efforts. These innovation resources then bring findings and potential ideas back to either the Business Unit Strategic Innovation Council or the Innovation and New Product Development Committee for consideration and inclusion into our innovation system. While we continuously monitor our competitors and thought leaders for new and novel best practices (acceleration, incubation, pre-competitive partnerships, etc.), we focus on the customers, the patients and the health systems we serve to ensure that we are solving their biggest challenges — this enables us to look ahead and develop real solutions to real problems and worry less about what our competitors are building.
It is critical to realistically, openly and honestly assess challenges from an external perspective and then build the innovation system that will work for you — and your customers — in your industry context.
C-suite leaders take an active and engaged role in the innovation and new product development process through ownership and oversight on our Innovation and New Product Development Committee (INPDC). The INPDC meets monthly to discuss and shape our innovation and new product development efforts. Additionally, BD’s Board of Directors level has established a standing committee called the Science, Medicine, Innovation and Technology Committee to provide oversight and guidance on our innovation and new product development efforts. This committee, also under my management, guides our innovation and new product development goals and objectives.
Recently, BD has been transitioning from a product-focused company to a customer-focused provider of health care solutions based on a rigorous understanding of customer needs, a rigorous innovation process and a solutions mindset. BD is on a journey to move beyond commercialization of individual products to develop integrated software and data-enabled systems with complementary services that improve our customers’ ability to drive efficiency and patient outcomes. In this journey, we are working to develop customerfocused capabilities across our organization — from development through commercialization.
The most successful innovation companies remind us that innovation almost never fails due to lack of creativity, but almost always because of a lack of discipline.
At the end of the day, every company faces unique innovation challenges and obstacles. It is critical to realistically, openly and honestly assess these challenges from an external perspective and then build the innovation system that will work for you — and your customers — in your industry context. There is no recipe for creating a robust, sustainable innovation system for every organization — you must build it yourself. The most successful innovation companies remind us that innovation almost never fails due to lack of creativity, but almost always because of a lack of discipline. You must remain committed and steadfast in a disciplined approach, raising innovation competency at all levels throughout the organization.
There are many sources to look for guidance. PDMA is a great resource to connect with others who have developed processes and are always willing to assist. We relied on both internal and external sources of expertise to help shape and craft our process.
Becton Dickinson Best Practices
Leading innovation culture and behaviors created via BD’s innovation system include:
- Constructive challenge: The process for constructive challenge includes both internal and external activities that explore unknowns and challenges key assumptions
- Ambidexterity: The ability to achieve longer-term innovation goals and deliver short-term needs
- Customer-centricity: Using deep, fact-based understanding of customer segments to identify and prioritize resources and innovation
- Data driven: Decisions driven by reliable, validated analytics
- Risk Tolerance: Ability to manage risk in order to achieve outsized rewards
- Transparency: The willingness to share a clear view of insights and intentions
BD is deeply engaged with the entrepreneurial community through its accelerator programs, incubator programs, cross industry consortia and, of course, with its customers who provide a deep and realistic understanding of needs and constraints.
About the Author
Ellen Strahlman, M.D., M.H.Sc., is the executive vice president for research and development and chief medical officer for BD. In this role, she oversees the company’s Innovation and New Product Development Systems, as well as the Research & Development (R&D) and medical affairs functions. Strahlam co-chairs the company’s Innovation and New Product Development Council, chairs the R&D and the Medical Affairs Leadership Teams, and she leads the Office of Science, Medicine & Technology for BD, comprising more than 3,500 associates worldwide.