Season 7 Episode 4 : ‘Written on very, very important paper:’ Medtronic—and what having a Purpose for 60 years gives you

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As we dig deeper into answering our question ‘Is Purpose Working?’ we find that while Purpose is a very new concept for many, having a conscious organizational Purpose has been BAU for some corporations for decades. This week we meet one, which had it written down in 1960, and which specifically states that the company’s ”first and foremost priority” is to contribute to human welfare.

The company in question is $30bn, Ireland and Minnesota-headquartered Medtronic, the world’s largest medical technology company and creator of the world’s first battery-operated pacemaker. And we also learn how, 60 years after being defined, it’s a Purpose statement that continues to serve as an ethical framework and inspirational goal for all 90,000-plus employees around the world.

Explaining all this for us is the company’s Vice President, Global Learning and Leadership, Jeff Orlando. Based in Philadelphia, Jeff explains just how new he is in post—he joined the very week the company had to move into Lockdown, in March—but also how quickly he’s become part of the Medtronic family.

With the help of RedThread Research, we find out just how-with those guys actually leading the debate with Jeff this time, and me joining in with a discussion at the end (well, actually the beginning this time, to keep things fresh)! As you’re about to hear, for me, and for Dani and Stacia, what makes Medtronic’s conscious sense of Purpose even more interesting than its heritage and on-going affirmation (something we get into big time in the conversation) is that it’s marked by ritual. In 1974, the company introduced a special in-house “mission and medallion ceremony” that’s now held many times a year at facilities all over the world; an employee gets to receive the medallion as a reminder of the honor and responsibility they have in fulfilling our mission. Acting as a deliberately symbolic way of bringing new employees together behind the company’s defined common purpose, could rituals like this be something other CEOs pursuing Purpose be looking at doing too?

Should your Purpose statement really act like the Constitution for you over time? It’s a fascinating question—and one bound to come up, I predict, at the special ‘Is Purpose Working?’ webinar early in 2021, our live, online gated experience where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Jeff. Make sure you can ask your question about Purpose and ceremony by locking-in today your free place at the webinar at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose.

So: all set? Great—so let’s hear about Jeff starting with our our executive summary of the conversation and how Purpose is brought up to make hard decisions, how you can’t ‘fake it’ and why Purpose isn’t just in pockets across the company, which as well as:

  • a shared podcast participant history (Deloitte)
  • how he sees L&D’s contribution is creating organisational capability to win in the market
  • how companies with a defined Purpose seem to have so much passion about it
  • the idea all employees are really only ever ‘stewards’ of the Mission (the Medtronic Purpose)
  • how L&D has an important place in creating the space and time for the ceremonies that can anchor your Purpose work
  • how HR accepts the Mission is its Mission, too—but it still needs to help the company meet immediate targets
  • and much more.

Read more about the Medtronic Mission here

Jeff is on LinkedIn here and his employer is here

Purpose work is here

The NovoEd-hosted Season 7 overall microsite, and where you can quickly get online registration for the final webinar, is over at www.novoed.com/purpose

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