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Coaching in Medtech - that´s what matters!

Coaching in Medtech - that´s what matters!

Stable and experienced management teams are at the core of successful companies. That is what Markus Riester, Technology and Strategy consultant and Executive coach is personally convinced of. As serial entrepreneur in the Medtech Industry he is always having a close look on the leaders heading teams when assessing investment opportunities or joining start ups as consultant. He loves to see the tremendous impact that coaching can have on the healthtech companies he is advicing.

Also the Roland Berger’s Global Medtech 2023 study (1) showed that the most successful Medtech companies in Europe excel in organizational and financial factors, but most importantly, mention that their leadership teams made a difference. How is the healthcare and medical device industry different from other industries with respect to organizational excellence, leadership development and culture?

Coaching individuals - shaping organizational excellence 

In the dynamic landscape of leadership and organizational development, coaching emerges as a pivotal measure to drive positive change, foster growth, and develop leadership teams to propel organizations to new levels. 
My approach is to start with the individual. As organizations are a collection of individuals, collaboration of these individuals is the key to success. Having each individual perform in their role, is the prerequisite for an organization that excels. My approach to coaching in one short sentence: “Coaching individuals – shaping organizational excellence”. 
As the leaders of organizations have a massive influence on the performance, culture, and success, it is their insightfulness, mindfulness and personal growth that typically creates much value for the organization. Their insights trickle into the organization and can create sustained impact across the whole organization. 

Coaching the leaders seems to be a no-brainer for any company, independent of the vertical.

Raise self-awareness of individuals and teams

Coaching is helping individuals create a higher level of self-awareness, to allow them to better comprehend their surroundings, understand the impact of their interaction with other people. Most importantly, to understand themselves better in the situations that they experience in their life. Coaching supports own reflection, creates awareness towards opportunities, never trodden paths, rarely voiced or even previously dismissed thoughts. Most of all, coaching allows the coachee to do a deep dive into their contribution, their goals, their engagement, and their role. The methods used in professional coaching do not impose anything onto or propose solutions to the coachee. Much to the opposite: rather offer to the coachee to embark on the journey towards self-awareness that will develop their personal solutions. While the results may look similar from the outside, the pathway is fundamentally different and lets the coachee to not merely learn a “mechanical” way of dealing with a topic but allows them to take ownership of their findings to create results and solutions.

Allow coachees to take ownership of their findings to create results and solutions.

Coaching in Medtech Companies - anything really different?

Medtech companies are different from other organizations in several ways. One of the major differences between Medtech companies and companies in other verticals is that both the requirements of the quality management system (ISO 13485) and the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) or In-Vitro diagnostics regulation (IVDR) demand not only diligent documentation of the work, depending on the class of product certification, it requires full control over your development process, the production, and customer facing processes, and can go all the way to post-market surveillance for critical life-saving devices. 
Coaching a Quality Mindset thus is critical specifically in Medtech companies, as this is the foundation of the company, and must be acted upon by management, by every employee, contractor, and supplier always. Typically, people starting in Medtech companies bring their business or technology skillset. They then need to acquire the quality skills - which they likely have never been taught at school or university – and adopt a quality mindset. This is more likely a Quality mindshift - adopting this Quality Mindshift (3) is crucial, and it is a significant add-on to the skillset that enables individuals to conduct their role. 
With this critical level of importance of quality, a coach should at least understand the concept of quality management and the alphabet soup that comes with it: QMS, QM/QA, MDR/IVDR regulations and further regulations that mandate the specific way of working in a Medtech organization.
Customer focus is a key requirement that Medtech companies need to excel in. This is true in more than one way – and it is a challenge of its own.  A coach can be helpful to enable a product owner to navigate the complexities of getting R&D, Quality, Sales and Marketing to agree on a product that will be successful in the market. While this focus of coaching stretches the original goal of self-awareness, it shows the impact that being knowledgeable in the field of the coachee can be helpful to understand the pain, their goals, and to ask better questions on the quest for answers.

Being knowledgeable in the field of the coachee can be helpful to understand the pain, their goals, and to ask better questions on the quest for their answers.

Also, complex medical devices are rarely sold “off-the-shelf”. When medical devices are procured, often the cost of either the device itself is reimbursed, or the services that can be supplied with the device, and disposables. Even though it may not be obvious at the onset who the end customer really is, the financial incentive is typically at the core of the offering in many places along the value chain. Ideally, the physician, the clinic, the payor, and even the patient profit from the offering. Bringing all relevant information together and establishing a constructive dialog of the different functions in the organization to develop the ideal offering is a process where coaches can create and maintain settings in which teams and individuals thrive to deliver the right product.

Medtech companies - all driven by a great purpose 

One of the advantages that a Medtech company have is a great purpose, which typically is some form of “making people’s lives better”, or even “saving people’s lives”. This is highly motivational for the organization. Under the hood, in particular regarding the individual contributors, Medtech companies function like other organizations. In that sense, people are people, so Medtech companies face similar challenges regarding leadership and communication, respect, caring and daring like any other company. This is exactly the context where a coach can create value by working with the leaders on a company culture that serves the purpose, and help organizations thrive. 

I thank the members of the Healthcare Shapers Coaching practice for discussions and contributions: Christoph Eisenhart, Mark Melmer, Detlef Mangels, Frank Roth and Brigitte Lippmann


  2. Care to dare – unleashing astonishing potential through Secure Base Leadership; Kohlrieser, G., Goldsworthy, S., Coombe, D., ISBN 978-1-119-96157-4
  3. Dr. Susan Goldsworthy, IMD 


Autoren des Beitrags

Dr. Markus Riester

Markus is a technology & business strategy consultant and IMD IECC Executive coach. Profound experience in medtech, digital, diagnostics, production, Quality management.

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