When a company adds a new surgical product to its line at about the rate of one a month and its business is selling complex medical instruments to surgeons, the process of keeping your salespeople up to scratch and fully conversant with the latest medical procedures can be a major training and sales challenge. One way of tackling this can add up to salespeople spending more and more time in the classroom rather than out in the field, where they should be.
J&J had this kind of a problem emerging with their thousand plus sales staff of medical instruments when they decided to rethink their training strategy. Their traditional approach placed the emphasis on first giving their salespeople a grounding in human anatomy and general surgical procedures before going in-depth on how each of the J&J devices functioned and was actually used in operating theatre procedures. This often meant that it was difficult to discussing specific devices without without constant repetitions, references and reminders to the previous material they had learnt.
Using Systematic Inventive Thinking, J&J were able to devise a more innovative curriculum and training strategy. Their solution was to streamline the training by bundling together all relevant anatomical, organ, and medical procedural knowledge with information about the specific device in product-centric modules. As a result, the sales people better understood how J&J products fit within the medical ecosystem and could communicate this to their customers more effectively. The modules were delivered through short segments spread over twelve months. Sales people got into the field sooner, putting their training into practice (and selling!) right away..