Medtronic Case Study

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Harvard Business School 9-698-004 July 8, 1997 We’ve Got Rhythm! Medtronic Corporation’s Cardiac Pacemaker Business The legacy of Medtronic Corporation, the company that created the cardiac pacemaker industry, is a proud one. Starting from its earliest pacemakers, which had to be carried outside the body, Medtronic had achieved dramatic improvements in the functionality, size and reliability of these devices. In so doing it had extended the lives, and improved the quality of life, for hundreds of thousands of people in whom pacemakers had been implanted. The pacemaker has been designated as one of the ten most outstanding engineering achievements in the world over the past 50 years, along with the digital computer and the…show more content…
Several key employees left the company, seeing greater opportunity to develop their new pacemaker product ideas in new start-ups rather than within Medtronic. These competitors proved much faster than Medtronic at developing new products that advanced the state-of-the-art in pacemaking. Medtronic was also pummeled by two major product recalls related to product quality problems. Observers felt the company would have lost even more of the market during this period, were it not for its strong worldwide salesforce and the lingering legacy of its brand reputation amongst surgeons, the primary customer group. 1 This citation was made by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1984. Professor Clayton M. Christensen prepared this case as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Some of the data and names in this case have been disguised to protect the proprietary interests of the company. Copyright © 1997 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying,

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