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Working across functions, a company redesigns and improves a medical device

When colleagues from purchasing, marketing, engineering, and sales came together to see how their product stacked up against four rivals, they were inspired to explore a number of innovations.

Challenge

A medical-products company planned a series of teardowns to improve the design of its therapeutic medical device. To generate new ideas, executives invited colleagues from purchasing, marketing, engineering, and sales to see how their product stacked up against four rivals.

Discovery

Seeing the products together was an “aha!” moment for the purchasers, who quickly identified a series of straightforward design changes that, while invisible to customers, would significantly lower the cost of manufacturing the device.

Meanwhile, seeing the configurations of competitors’circuit boards spurred the team’s salespeople, marketers, and engineers to discuss the manufacturing implications of the company’s modular approach to design. The engineers had long assumed that being able to mix and match various features after final assembly was advantageous and had emphasized this capability in the product’s design. Yet the salespeople reported that most customers hardly ever ordered more than a handful of modules at purchase and rarely ordered more after assembly.

Break down silos

Impact

The conversations ultimately led to simplifications in the product’s circuitry that lowered purchasing costs by 23% and helped marketers identify a new customer segment where the product might command a higher price.

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