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The danaher business system vs. the toyota production system how are they alike how are they different, introduction.

Having had the fortunate opportunity to be the principle architect of the Danaher Business System (DBS), I am often asked what it is and how it compares to the Toyota Production System (TPS).  Much has been written about TPS, almost to a fault in my opinion.  Academics have spent countless years studying Toyota but have failed to understand how companies who are classified as “Brownfield” environments implement change and strive for excellence.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that Toyota is one of, if not the best manufacturing companies in the world today.  Danaher, as successful as they have been, does not come close to matching Toyota’s manufacturing capabilities.  However, Danaher took a more comprehensive approach to what we now call Lean.  Originally, Danaher’s process was called the Danaher Production System (DPS) and was shamelessly modeled after TPS.  Early on, we changed the name to the Danaher Business System to reflect that our focus needed to be more business-oriented rather than strictly focused on manufacturing.  (I know some will debate me on the fact that TPS is more than manufacturing…I got that.  However, I will explain below how DBS has evolved and from my understanding, it is much more comprehensive than TPS.)

By having a more comprehensive approach, Danaher has become one of the most profitable industrials in history.  (Note: Toyota’s Gross Profit in 2018 was 17%, while Danaher’s was north of 50%.)  I know that profitability is not the only measure when evaluating a business system, but it would be hard to convince me that it doesn’t deserve to be ranked rather high on the list.

DPS evolved from the work we did at a Danaher division called Jacobs Manufacturing, affectionately known as JAKE BRAKE.  At Jake, the spark was lit in 1987 which ignited the modern Lean movement in the USA.  In the 1980’s Jake Brake was an arrogant company who hid behind their patent as they continued to provide poor customer service and quality.  It was a traditional batch & queue manufacturing company with all of the ills that go along with that.  Under the leadership of Art Byrne and George Koenigsaecker, we were the first to bring the consulting firm Shingijutsu to the USA (1987).  Shingijutsu was comprised of Taiichi Ohno’s first lieutenants from his Autonomous Study Group.  We basically transformed the company by our version of TPS, called the Jacobs Production System (JPS) and returned Jake to profitability in just a couple of years.  When George Sherman became CEO in 1990, he asked me to “do for Danaher what you guys did to Jake Brake.”  I went to work for him directly and began a journey that none of us realized was to be a part of industrial history.  The Danaher Business System was born, and for nine years, I oversaw the evolution of DBS.  Yes, we made many mistakes, which will be the subject of another article.  But it is important to understand that DBS started out as a carbon copy of TPS.  Even though we were nowhere close to matching Toyota in the application of TPS, we continued to perfect our application as well as evolving the scope of DBS, as I will outline below.

Understanding DBS – A Few Points to Consider

  • It is important to understand that DBS works for Danaher and Danaher’s culture.  It should not be copied without critical thought.  The same can be said about TPS.  Pundits insist that companies copy Toyota, that TPS is the only way.  Blindly copied, TPS will not work in any other organization.  Nor will DBS.  Companies need to develop their own business system that works for them.  Yes, there are many attributes that can be adopted from DBS and TPS, but customization is key.  With that said, the one thing we did not compromise on were the underlying TPS principles.  That was key!
  • Being an industrial company, Danaher’s original focus was on manufacturing.  We learned early on that the root cause of many of the issues found on the shop floor resonated from other functions in the company.  So, we expanded our scope and applied TPS principles to areas such as Sales, Finance, Human Resources, Engineering, etc.
  • DBS initially focused on achieving operational performance improvements through what I call “Point Kaizens” where a single process or function was the focus for improvement. We learned that we needed to gravitate to “Enterprise Kaizen” where we needed to harness the cooperation and behavior change from all functions within the company.  For example, a Sales & Operations Planning Process (S&OP) must involve all functions of the company in order to be successful.  Each of these functions need to make drastic changes to their beliefs and practices and learn how to optimize the entire organization as opposed to their singular function.  If leaders of these functions are not grounded in the fundamental principles, a company will never achieve an enterprise transformation.  I have found that this is where most companies “Flatlined” (the title of my soon to be released book on the subject).
  • The initial focus of DBS was to improve Safety, Quality, Delivery and Cost (SQDC).  However, as we achieved decent improvements in SQDC, we learned that DBS can be used as a Growth (G) vehicle as well.
  • In the early stages, we realized that we needed to be more strategic as to how to deploy our DBS resources.  I introduced Policy Deployment (what I now call Strategy Deployment) to provide us a compass in order to achieve our strategic breakthrough objectives.  (Note: these breakthrough objectives could apply to any combination of SQDC&G.)  But we had a mantra: You had to earn the right to grow.  If your operating metrics (SQDC) were not sound, you were not allowed to focus on growth.  Policy Deployment not only informed us of what we needed to work on, it also forced us to make a conscious decision as to what NOT to work on. The implementation of the Policy Deployment process was a huge evolution of DBS and it took us a few years to get it right.  I am happy to say that 25 years later, Danaher still considers Policy Deployment as a key element of DBS.
  • As the original DBS tool set contained traditional TPS tools (Standard Work, 5S, SMED, Kanban, Problem Solving tools, etc.) we started to add to our business system other tools as well.  For example, we added Human Resource tools, Strategic Planning, Growth tools, Lean Accounting, New Product Development, and many other “weapons.”
  • We learned that becoming proficient in the tools of DBS was critical to our success, however, it was not enough.  I made the analogy that knowing how to use each and every tool in building a house (ex: a hammer, saw, nail gun, etc.) does not guarantee you would know how to build a house. So, DBS was all about building a house, not the successful execution of tools.  To us, building a house was to evolve our organization where all critical stakeholders’ objectives were met.  We defined our primary stakeholders as Employees, Customers and Shareholders.  We strived for a “win-win-win” scenario and avoided a zero-sum game. 
  • At one point in our evolution, we had to fight the onslaught of Six Sigma zealots that entered the organization.  They attempted to prioritize Six Sigma over the entire DBS infrastructure, ignoring the power of DBS and actually moved to replace DBS with Six Sigma.  These zealots came from companies such as GE, Honeywell and other companies who made the crucial mistake of developing their business system around the Six Sigma tool.  At Danaher, we insisted that DBS needed to be built around a set of philosophies and principles, not a tool(s).  Guided by these principles, the tools were merely a vehicle for us to meet our stakeholders’ objectives.  Make no mistake about it, Six Sigma was an important tool in our DBS toolbox.  However, we did not elevate the importance of this tool and it sat equally alongside all of the other tools in the toolbox, not any more or any less important than the rest of the tools.  Several internal battles ensued as these Six Sigma zealots formed Six Sigma councils, clubs, held separate meetings of those who were worthy (in other words, those who were “belted”), and alienated the rest of the organization who we felt were crucial to the success of Danaher.  We eventually extinguished this movement; however, a lot of valuable time and energy was spent away from our focus in order to fight this battle

Consistent with the Lean philosophy of continuous improvement, DBS was and still is under a continual state of improvement, refinement, and evolution.  Having weathered the Six Sigma storm mentioned above, we became very skeptical of consultants and academics peddling their newest book or silver bullet.  We were open to new ideas, however we found that most new offerings were either a repackaging of existing approaches, were in conflict with the underlying principles of DBS or were viewed by us as something that would take us away from perfecting the basics of DBS. 

In summary, the principles and tools of the Toyota Production System form the underlying foundation of the Danaher Business System.  Contrary to the pundits and academics who have made a living promoting the merits of TPS, we knew that we could not blindly copy TPS.  We learned that we did not want to become “like Toyota”, we strived to become “Toyota like.”  As a result, we built a business system that propelled Danaher to be one of the most successful diversified industrials in the world, far exceeding the performance of many iconic companies, including Toyota.

Flatlined: Why Lean Transformations Fail and What to Do About It Book Cover

Flatlined: Why Lean Transformations Fail and What to do About It

Turn Waste into Wealth: How to Find Cash in Every Corner of the Company Book Cover

Turn Waste into Wealth: How to Find Cash in Every Corner of the Company


Technology and Operations Management

Mba student perspectives.

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Danaher and its Business System – A Model of Excellence

While not groundbreaking today, Danaher’s operating model in the 1980’s sought to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency. By aligning its operating model and business model since its early days, Danaher today has become a $19B industry superstar.

Danaher has long been recognized as a leading operating company (125 companies worldwide; 19B revenue). By repackaging key pillars of lean and  kaizen- based systems, Danaher established the Danaher Business System (DBS) in the mid-to-late-1980s. Over time, Danaher has effectively linked its business model to its operating model. According to former CEO Larry Culp, “The DBS process system is the soul of Danaher; the system guides planning and execution.” (HBS Danaher case)

As a large operating company, Danaher has a track record of improving its portfolio companies’ operations, resulting in improved performance and growth. With a winning business strategy, Danaher has provided 21% annual returns since 1997 to shareholders. (beta.finance.yahoo.com/quote/DHR) Since launching DBS, Danaher’s strategy has been to implement its proven operating system to eliminate inefficiencies. (http://www.leaninterim.com/danaher-business-system-implementing-real-lean-thinking)

Four “P’s:”—people, plan, process, and performance—create the foundation of DBS. Continuous improvement and operational efficiencies are built into the system. Danaher has thrived by creating an environment that encourages employees to seek improvement and find/explore entrepreneurial gaps. Recently, Danaher expanded DBS into new areas that focus on innovation and growth, aiming to drive improvement in product development, marketing, and sales. (Danaher case)

DBS is not unique in today’s context. In fact, it is a copycat—DBS was formed using other operating methodologies (lean/ kaizen /TPS) that Danaher implemented ahead of others in industry. While lean and  kaizen  became commonplace in some manufacturing companies by the mid-to-late 1990’s, Danaher was a decade ahead of its competitors. What is unique is the way in which Danaher linked a relatively new way of operating to its business strategy. By the late 1980’s, DBS became firmly entrenched in firm culture while the company was still in its early stage. (web.archive.org/web/20081010225950/http://www.psekd.com/Company/Danaher_Corp)

Pathways to Just Digital Future

While providing a good example of an effective operations model, I also selected Danaher for this blog because it takes a page out of the LEAD textbook. The implementation of DBS is a massive “change management” challenge. With each new acquisition, DBS is implemented almost immediately, system-wide, and from top-down. While we have analyzed other lean/ kaizen /TPS-based operating models in TOM, none were implemented inorganically within a relatively short timeline. In other words, an employee at Toyota expects to operate in an environment driven by TPS. However, if I am an employee at a tire manufacturer acquired last Tuesday by Danaher, and suddenly face DBS today, how will I react? How will my company react?

I am sure many of you have read about or experienced instances of a takeover, after which a company is either gutted or faces changes to its way of doing business. How big and what type of disruption does DBS create? The answer: “It depends.” According to HBS’s Danaher case, the implementation of DBS at Radiometer was relatively smooth (but required considerable planning). Danaher surprised Radiometer’s executive team, who believed their operations were as efficient as possible; as it turned out, DBS drove considerable process improvements. On the other hand, one online blog (taken with care/context/partial skepticism) portrays employees at various Danaher operating companies with less optimism. (glassdoor.com/Reviews/Danaher-Reviews) The comments range from: “Danaher doesn’t train us well…” to “Danaher is only worried about ‘reaching their numbers’” and “Danaher will strip [the company down] to achieve higher profits…at the expense of the individuals making [the profits] happen.”

This is likely contextual; the degree of buy-in to DBS and Danaher culture by an operating company’s leadership is a likely driver of implementation. Per the HBS case, Radiometer executives quickly bought into DBS and pushed it throughout Radiometer organically. If I were Danaher, I would ensure a company’s executive team fully supports DBS before going forward with an acquisition. If unachievable at that time, I might wait to complete the acquisition until I have fully convinced the company of DBS’s benefits, particularly since performance is dependent on successful DBS implementation. Secondly, I would ensure each employee receives the requisite training to succeed.

Danaher’s business and operating systems support each other. With a business strategy designed to identify and acquire companies that will benefit from DBS, Danaher has achieved considerable growth in top line, bottom line, and market share for its portfolio of operating companies. Additionally, DBS touches every business competency—ranging from marketing/sales to in-factory production. (Danaher case) So while not superbly unique, DBS stands out as a proven operating system that supports and sustains its parent company’s business model and aims. Throughout the last 20 years, Danaher has shown tremendous growth and returns; by many accounts, the credit belongs to DBS.

Student comments on Danaher and its Business System – A Model of Excellence

It’s a very flowing overview of Danaher’s business system and its implications. I think it is also a great analysis because Danaher is one of the few companies that can keep its business model as a sustainable and profitable one while not operating with the most unique business system (DBS).

Many businesses find the long term and sustainable solution in inorganic growth when their core business / industry growth goes into a stagnant cycle. Inorganic growth is not the simplest art especially in manufacturing / industrials areas. As many services companies face little difficulty in growing their businesses inorganically as it requires talent management and training sessions only. In the industry segment which Danaher operates, acquirers should also be able to smoothly manage the change in business / operating processes. That’s what makes this journey a very difficult one, a very physical one. Apparently, Danaher, as an established and successful company, is a good operator of this process.

My long term concern about this model: Going forward, industrials / manufacturing players will be operating with very tight margins as the global competition is expected to be harsh for every player. I see it very difficult for Danaher to change / implement / adapt its current model when other competitors come up with original, more modern and efficient models. As Danaher’s operating assets in diverse sub-industries will result in harder implementation and adaptation processes, flexibility and quick response abilities to a top-down approach will be the key to successful competition in these industries.

Ercu – Danaher’s operating companies have for years operated in marketplaces with tight margins. Where they have been able to beat out their competitors is through employing more efficient business practices, and when required, drop product lines altogether (if they’re not making money). Danaher has been judicious with what it chooses to manufacture, and is constantly looking at the next frontier of industry and which companies it will acquire (whatever and wherever that might be) to maximize its operational profits.

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Kaizen: Danaher's approach to global excellence

Kaizen at Aldevron – Fargo, ND

Great businesses exist to serve customers, and Danaher relies on its empowered and motivated people to deliver solutions to a customer base that provides critical global healthcare services. 

For Danaher, a global life sciences and diagnostics innovator, the cycle of improving results for customers and fulfilling the employee experience stems from the philosophy of continuous improvement: Danaher is all-in on an approach called kaizen, which means ‘change for the good.’  

There’s a visceral energy that arises from being part of a team that achieves profound results in the span of just one week. Being part of a kaizen team is the same feeling you get from rolling up your sleeves with a motivated group of friends or family to get something important done together. 

At Danaher, kaizen events bring together associates at all levels who work side-by-side to achieve a common goal. “It’s not just about identifying why we have a gap, or an improvement opportunity – we also implement the actual change,” says Joakim Weidemanis, EVP of Danaher’s Diagnostics platform. “Kaizen events are some of the most exciting experiences you can be a part of in Danaher – they’re fun and high energy and they make our businesses better and help us deliver better outcomes for our customers.”  

A Japanese philosophy centered on continuous improvement, kaizen serves as the cornerstone of the Danaher Business System (DBS) , which is a key differentiator that sets Danaher’s work and associate experience apart. A core value for the company is Kaizen is Our Way of Life.  Danaher CEO Rainer Blair puts that message into his own words: 

  “ We get inspired by leaders dropping their rank at the door, getting their hands dirty and making something happen in the manufacturing cell. That's what our culture is all about. ”

Since Danaher’s founding nearly 40 years ago, DBS and kaizen philosophy have empowered Danaher’s leaders to foster a culture that surpasses the status quo to deliver results.  One of the many ways Danaher amplifies the impact of this model is through its ongoing CEO Kaizen events, which bring Danaher’s most senior leaders closer to the point of impact as they work side by side with associates in kaizens across the organization, making dramatic improvements in the company’s strategic focus areas.   

In 2023, CEO Kaizens across Danaher operating companies focused on operational performance, inventory reduction, past-due backlog and on-time delivery – all complex challenges that directly impact customers. At the 2023 CEO Kaizen event with Cepheid in Solna, Sweden, the team focused on improving their material flow between factories, as well as within the production line, to ultimately reduce inventory. “This is what we do,” said Weidemanis, who participated in the 5-day event. “We get together and we attack an important problem for our customers or for our associates in a week – and we get it done in a week. In many cases, people in the kaizen event may start out not knowing each other that well. At the Solna event, my team was made up of people across all levels which created a great opportunity to build a strong culture that supports open and honest discussions about innovative solutions.”   

Danaher’s disciplined business approach is laser-focused on outcomes, and CEO Kaizens are no different.

The participating operating companies reported sustained and material improvements in inventory management, past-due backlog, and an increase in operational productivity. Here are two examples of the impressive results the teams achieved:  

  • Aldevron (Fargo, North Dakota) saw significant improvements in its Daily Management process—a part of the kaizen philosophy that focuses on small, daily improvements that collectively result in significant improvement—including a more than 50% reduction in lead time to deliver product.     
  • Beckman Coulter Life Sciences (Indianapolis, Indiana)  reduced both inventory and past due backlog by over 35% and brought lead times below industry standard.    

Danaher’s embrace of kaizen allows leaders to do what they love – go to “gemba” the real place where work is done and make a difference by working alongside teams to solve problems.

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problem solving process danaher

Danaher Business System and Acquisition History

problem solving process danaher

Danaher Corporation, globally recognized as a life science and technology innovator, is not only well-known for its diverse portfolio of products and services but also for its unique business system known as the Danaher Business System (DBS). This has been a key driver of the company's success and growth, significantly influencing its operations, culture, and overall business strategy. Furthermore, Danaher stands as an exemplary case study in capital allocation with its rich history of numerous successful acquisitions and spin-offs.

Since the early 1990s, Danaher's management team has transformed a group of under-performing industrial manufacturing companies into a global powerhouse in life sciences and diagnostics. Remarkably, they have grown the company's earnings per share by roughly 10,000% from 1990 to 2023 – an almost unbeatable track record of value creation. Let's explore this transformation in more detail.

Danaher - Investor & Analyst Day 2019 - Conference Call Deck-page-45 (1)

Origin and Evolution

DBS was primarily developed and implemented under the leadership of George M. Sherman, who served as the CEO of Danaher from 1986 to 2001. Sherman played a pivotal role in the creation and application of DBS, drawing inspiration from the principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Lean manufacturing. These philosophies, known for their focus on efficiency, waste reduction, and continuous improvement, provided the initial foundation for DBS. Thus, the early implementation of DBS primarily revolved around enhancing operational efficiency.

The development of DBS was also influenced by Steven Rales and Mitchell Rales, the founding brothers of Danaher. Their vision and strategic direction were instrumental in shaping the company's approach to business, including the emphasis on continuous improvement and operational efficiency that has been hallmarks of DBS since its introduction in the late 1980s.

Under the leadership of Sherman and with the backing of the Rales brothers, Danaher successfully integrated and adapted these principles into its unique system. This system has now been a central component of the company's culture and operational strategy for over three decades and has proven astonishingly successful. Given the framework's success, it has also attracted considerable attention from external parties.

A pivotal point in the evolution of DBS was the adoption of the Kaizen philosophy. Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning "change for the better," became a central tenet of DBS early on. It emphasized continuous, incremental improvement and involved every employee, from top management to the shop floor, in the process of identifying and solving problems.

As Danaher grew, the scope of DBS expanded beyond manufacturing processes. It began to encompass various aspects of the business, including supply chain management, sales and marketing, and even human resources. This expansion was a clear indication of DBS transitioning from a set of operational tools to a holistic business strategy.

Over the years, Danaher has continuously refined and customized DBS to suit its evolving needs. The system has been tailored to different segments within the company, ensuring that it remains relevant and effective across its diverse portfolio. Today, DBS still stands as a dynamic and integral part of Danaher's identity and is deeply embedded in the company's culture, and the management frequently references it in both internal and external communications.

Core Components of DBS

The Danaher Business System (DBS) is not just a set of tools and processes; it is deeply rooted in a culture characterized by specific core behaviors that bring the system to life within the organization. These core behaviors are essential for embedding the DBS philosophy across all levels of Danaher and for ensuring its successful implementation. Here are the core behaviors that are pivotal in bringing DBS to life:

Continuous Improvement: At the heart of DBS is the principle of Kaizen, which means "change for better." This core behavior fosters an environment where all employees are constantly looking for ways to improve processes, products, and services. It encourages a mindset where status quo is challenged, and innovation is a continuous journey.

Customer First: Danaher places a strong emphasis on understanding and meeting the needs of its customers. This behavior drives the organization to deliver high-quality products and services that solve real problems for its customers, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Innovation and Risk-Taking: DBS encourages employees to think creatively and experiment with new ideas. This involves taking calculated risks and learning from failures. Innovation is not seen as a one-time event but as an ongoing process integral to Danaher's growth and success.

Teamwork and Collaboration: The success of DBS relies on effective teamwork and collaboration across different functions and levels within the organization. This behavior emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge, skills, and best practices to achieve common goals.

Accountability and Results-Oriented: Employees at Danaher are encouraged to take ownership of their work and are held accountable for their results. This behavior ensures that everyone is focused on achieving key performance indicators and contributing to the company’s overall success.

Integrity and Respect: Upholding high ethical standards and showing respect for individuals and the broader community is a core aspect of DBS. This behavior fosters trust and a positive work environment, which is crucial for long-term success.

Leadership and Development: Developing leaders who can effectively implement and sustain DBS principles is crucial. This involves not just technical training but also cultivating leadership qualities that align with the DBS culture.

Problem-Solving: DBS is rooted in the belief that problems are opportunities for improvement. Employees are trained in problem-solving techniques and are encouraged to approach challenges proactively, using data-driven analysis to find effective solutions.

Flexibility and Adaptability: In a rapidly changing business environment, being flexible and adaptable is key. This behavior is about being open to change and able to adjust strategies and processes in response to new information and evolving market conditions.

Global Mindset: Given Danaher’s global presence, embracing a global perspective is essential. This includes understanding different markets, cultures, and business practices, and leveraging diversity to drive innovation and growth.

Danaher – An Acquisition Machine

As previously stated, the DBS has been pivotal in shaping Danaher's financial performance and has consistently driven revenue growth and sustained robust profit margins.

Danaher's remarkable increase in earnings per share — an impressive ~10,000% since 1990 — underscores this immense success. Beyond DBS, the company is also renowned for its strategic approach to capital allocation, evidenced by several high-profile acquisitions and spin-offs.

Since the start of this chart, Danaher's stock has returned over 35,000% for its shareholders – excluding dividends. This infographic visualizes some of Danaher's most notable acquisitions and spin-offs.

Danaher M&A History

High-Profile Acquisitions

Beckman Coulter, Inc. (2011): One of Danaher's most significant acquisitions was Beckman Coulter, a leading company in biomedical testing equipment. This acquisition, valued at about $8.8 billion, greatly enhanced Danaher's position in the medical diagnostics field and expanded its footprint in the life sciences sector.

Pall Corporation (2015): Danaher acquired Pall Corporation, a global leader in filtration, separation, and purification, for $13.6 billion. This acquisition was a strategic move to strengthen Danaher's presence in the biopharmaceutical, food and beverage, and aerospace industries.

Cepheid (2016): In a deal valued at approximately $4 billion, Danaher acquired Cepheid, a company specializing in molecular diagnostics. This acquisition bolstered Danaher's diagnostics business, particularly in the rapidly growing field of molecular diagnostics.

Cytiva (2020): Danaher acquired Cytiva, the Biopharma business of GE Life Sciences, for about $21.4 billion. This significant acquisition added a broad range of instruments and software supporting drug discovery and biopharmaceutical manufacturing to Danaher's portfolio.

Notable Spin-offs

Fortive Corporation (2016): In a strategic move to streamline its operations, Danaher spun off several of its industrial businesses into a new company, Fortive Corporation. This spin-off included businesses in fields such as instrumentation, transportation, industrial technologies, and others. Fortive has since become an independent, publicly traded company.

Envista Holdings Corporation (2019): Danaher spun off its dental segment into a separate publicly traded company, Envista Holdings Corporation. This move allowed Danaher to focus more on its core areas in life sciences, diagnostics, and environmental and applied solutions, while Envista concentrated on the dental industry.

Capital Allocation Excellence

These acquisitions and spin-offs reflect Danaher's formidable capital allocation skills. These acquisitions have not only allowed Danaher to enter new markets and enhance its product and service offerings but have also, most importantly, created immense value for its shareholders.

Spin-offs such as Fortive and Envista exemplify Danaher's strategy to streamline its focus and resources towards segments with high returns on capital. These spin-offs have not only enabled both Danaher and the new entities to concentrate more effectively on their respective markets and strategic goals but have also undoubtedly created significant shareholder value as well. As previously mentioned, Danaher's stock has yielded over a 35,000% return for its shareholders since 1990.

Danaher's journey, underpinned by the Danaher Business System (DBS) and its strategic capital allocation through acquisitions and spin-offs, is a remarkable story of value creation. The evolution of DBS from a set of operational tools to a comprehensive business philosophy, emphasizing continuous improvement, customer focus, and employee involvement, has been central to Danaher's enduring success. Coupled with a series of strategic acquisitions and thoughtful spin-offs, Danaher has not only diversified and strengthened its portfolio but also carved a niche for itself as a leader in life sciences, diagnostics, and technology sectors. This strategy has led to an almost unbeatable increase in earnings per share and a remarkable return for shareholders.

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The Lean Post / Articles / Ask Art: What Was Danaher Like In the Early Days of Lean?

Ask Art: What Was Danaher Like In the Early Days of Lean?

Executive Leadership

Ask Art: What Was Danaher Like In the Early Days of Lean?

By Art Byrne

September 17, 2020

In this personal account of launching lean at Danaher, Art Byrne shares a wealth of insights into how to seed an enduring lean culture and business system.

Launching Lean at Danaher

Ah, nothing like a trip down memory lane. I’ve written about some of this before so forgive me for any redundancies. I’ll try and highlight some of the key lessons learned as we go along.

When we started lean at Danaher in 1987, the company was approximately $1 billion in sales. We had 13 separate and totally unrelated companies. Corporate headquarters were located in a small house under the Key Bridge in Washington D.C. and consisted of the Rales brothers, their two executive assistants, the CFO and a finance staff of less than ten. All the operating activities reported to two Group Executives, myself and John Cosentino. We shared an office and assistant in the factory of one of my Group companies, Jacobs Engine Brake (known as Jake Brake) in Bloomfield CT. We met monthly with the Rales brothers in Washington D.C.; but the day-to-day operations were the responsibility of John and me.

We didn’t know anything about Toyota’s 5S approach at the time. We just did this because it made common sense. When I arrived at the end of 1985 two of my companies, Jacobs Chuck (drill chucks) and Jake Brake (engine brakes for class 8 diesel trucks), were really struggling. At that time only two people in Danaher had any exposure to what we called Just-in-Time: myself, from my first general manager’s job at General Electric, and the guy I had appointed as President of Jake Brake, George Koenigsaecker (George K.) from his prior experience at John Deere and Rockwell.

We knew we had to make drastic changes at Jake Brake or we would lose it, and we both wanted to use Just-in-Time as the approach. Our auditor at the time, Arthur Anderson, had a consulting arm that was selling Just-in-Time knowledge so we started with them in 1986. While they were pretty slow, way too expensive, and loved power point presentations, we did create our first couple of cells.

At the time Jake Brake was a heavy machining operation which looked like a dark, dirty cave. George and I decided that we needed to change. So each time we built a new cell we added better lighting and repainted everything in that area: walls, ceiling, floors and machines. We even put potted plants in the first cell just to show how different the new look was. We wanted everyone to want their work area to look like that. We didn’t know anything about Toyota’s 5S approach at the time. We just did this because it made common sense. This turned out to be a great lesson that we both carried forward into our future lean endeavors.

We had a couple of cells but to be honest they didn’t work very well. We were reading books by Ohno and Shingo and especially a book called Kaizen   by Masaki Imai. In the spring of 1987, George K. noticed that Imai was hosting a five-day kaizen seminar in Hartford CT, which was just down the road from Bloomfield. George signed up about five of his people, and I attended the first two days. To do the training, Imai brought in the Shingijutsu Company from Nagoya, Japan. This was just 3 people who had spent their whole careers at Toyota, and for the 10 or so years prior to founding, Shingijutsu had worked directly for Taiichi Ohno implementing TPS in the Toyota first tier supplier companies.

These individuals were the real deal. George and I agreed that we needed them to come and help us. George K set out on this task and was relentless. He took them to dinner and brought them back to the plant late one night. They started immediately moving things around, which almost caused a riot with the union. They came again later in the week when both George and I could be with them. We said, “what do you think?” They said “50 percent. Everything can be cut by 50 percent.” Later they told us they said 50 percent because they didn’t think we would want to hear the real number.

We liked that as we were only thinking about 30 percent, but when we tried to get them to come work for us they declined. “We are too old, it is too far away, we don’t speak English, etc. etc.” We finally said: “But we have great steaks and lobsters and lots of golf.” They loved golf, so they agreed to meet with me and the President of Jacobs Chuck in a couple of months when we were going to be in Japan. At that meeting they agreed to come work for us. Mr. Iwata, their President said, “We will show you manufacturing magic.” Wow, was he right.

We started working with them in Jacobs Chuck in Clemson SC, which by the way also looked like a cave. We started with a plant tour which we thought would take about an hour and a half. We got only about 100 yards into the plant when they said, “Stop, we’ve seen enough.”

We returned immediately to the conference room, where Mr. Iwata went to the white board and in big letters wrote NO GOOD! He turned around and said: “Look, everything here is no good, what do you want to do about it?”

Ok, we got it. We formed two teams, one for our industrial chucks and one for assembly. We had four conveyor belt driven assembly lines, and so naturally the first thing Iwata said was “I hate conveyer belts, get rid of them.” Yikes! The other team, with Nakao and Takanaka, started moving equipment right away (machines that had been in the plant for more than 15 years without being moved) and by the end of the day had created the first cell. The great lesson we learned here was to listen and learn. Don’t push back. We found right away that lean (Just-inTime back then) was “learn-by-doing” and we wanted to learn.

Rolling Up Early Gains Beyond Incidental Improvements Into A Broader System

For the first couple of years Shingijutsu just focused on Jacobs Chuck and Jake Brake. Both made great progress. George K., along with his VP of Operations Bob Pentland and a new hire from a local company Ensign Bickford, Mark DeLuzio, really took the lead. Mark helped us initially in finance by moving us away from standard cost accounting and toward  something similar to what is now called lean accounting, and later became instrumental in creating/running the Danaher Business System (DBS). Switching to lean accounting was another big lesson as it allowed us to finally see what was going on and didn’t fight lean as standard cost accounting does. It also created great productivity in finance as Mark was able to go from 25 to 9 people and close the books in a day and a half.

George K and I were learning that Just-in-Time was the greatest strategic weapon that we had ever seen. As we realized early on that lean was a learn by doing exercise, we spent as much time with the Shingijutsu consultants as we could when they were in town. On the shop floor, in kaizen teams, at dinner every night, asking questions and playing golf with them on Saturday and Sunday before the kaizen week started. This was another lesson, which is that all leaders need to emerge themselves in the details of lean and become lean experts themselves if they want to have a successful lean turnaround.

Another lesson learned was that from the beginning George K. and I both saw that the Just-in-Time that we were learning was the greatest strategic weapon we had ever seen. Shingijutsu wasn’t teaching us this explicitly. But we saw that if you could cut your lead times from weeks to days, increase your productivity, drastically improve your quality and free up over half your floor space by removing the waste from your operations then you would have a huge strategic advantage. In fact we created an informal pact: “whatever Shingijutsu told us to do we would just do it no matter how crazy we thought it was.” About half the time we thought it was really crazy but we did it anyway. A lot of times things didn’t work well at first (in fact most of the time) but we never let it go back to what it was. We just kept pushing till we solved the problems and made it work. Another lesson learned.

A couple of key Toyota principles are “respect your people” and “go to gemba ” (the shop floor). We had never heard of these at the time but they seemed to be powerful common sense and we implemented these principles anyways. For example, Brake was a union environment (UAW), so we involved the union in everything we did. We were always honest and up front with them. We treated them as equal partners not as a union. At first this confused their local union president, Big Benny, as he thought perhaps we were trying to trick him. But as we kept proving that every move we made was better for our work force we eventually formed a great relationship. We knew that the best ideas for removing the waste would come from the people doing the work, and that always proved to be true.

I remember forming a component parts cell where we got a lot of pushback from the operators. They objected that we were moving the machines too close to each other and it wasn’t safe, etc., etc. We said “just try it and see.” We came back a couple of weeks later and they had shrunk the size of the cell by more than half by moving the machines even closer together. One of the biggest initial complainers then said, “Hey, this is great why didn’t we do this before.” Lesson learned: respect and listen to your people.

The “go to gemba” part also just made sense. George K. moved his whole staff out of the office block attached to the plant an into a small stack of offices in the middle of the plant. His VP of Operations, Bob Pentland, went a step further and put his desk right on the noisy shop floor. This was another lesson learned that I carried with me when I became CEO of The Wiremold Company. After we reorganized into value streams (product families) we had the value stream team leaders all sit on the shop floor right next to the equipment that made their product families.

As Jake Brake improved we were dropping inventory like a stone, and with Danaher’s standard cost accounting our numbers weren’t looking too good. In fact the Rales brothers called a “special emergency meeting” to see what was going on. Well George K. and I knew that if we just sat in the conference room and went through the numbers it would not be good for us and they would never get a sense of the great gains we were making. So we agreed that we should start the visit on the shop floor. George K. then came up with the brilliant idea to have the workers in each area (all UAW members) conduct the tour. This took about three hours as our union guys were really into it. When we finally got to the conference room there was no review of the numbers. The Rales brothers, to their credit, just said, “Wow, how fast can you do this in the rest of Danaher?” Whew, we still had jobs but also a big challenge. It got bigger when we asked Shingijutsu for help and they said no—not until we got Chuck and Brake to be much better.

Energizing a President’s Kaizen Corps of Improvers

We were going to have to do this on our own. We knew that it would never work unless we got the Presidents of all 13 Danaher companies to be the lean drivers in their own companies. To do this we had to teach them lean. So George K., John Cosentino and I, decided to create the Presidents Kaizen. First we took all 13 Presidents and their VPs of Operation to Japan for a week to visit some of Shingijutsu’s more advanced Japanese customers. When we got back, Cosentino and I essentially ordered all the Presidents to participate in a three-day kaizen every six weeks in one of Cosentino’s factories.

They weren’t too happy about this at first but the gains we got every time were so big that this quickly changed. They went from “gee, why do I have to go?” to “When is the next one, I don’t want to miss it.”  This in turn started We realized that this lean work would never work unless we got the presidents of all 13 Danaher companies to be the lean drivers in their own companies. to create a culture of lean within Danaher, even though it was done in an informal way. To help facilitate this I created a kaizen promotion office reporting to me. At first it was just one guy, Bill Moffitt, but we needed this to do the advance work and pick the kaizens that the Presidents would work on. Another lesson learned, the importance of a kaizen promotion office.

As Jake Brake improved we learned another valuable lesson, which is that at some point you have to get the customer involved if you are to continue to improve. This first came up with one of Jake’s biggest customers, Caterpillar. They were only ordering once per month, which caused lots of unnecessary inventory for both us and them. As we improved we talked them into ordering once per week. This didn’t last too long before they wanted to go back to once per month. We had to go further up their management chain to get them back to once per week. We eventually got to three times per week to the great benefit for both companies. I have seen this happen over and over in my various lean conversions. The more lean you become the more you outrun your customers and in order to deliver more value to them you need to get them to make some changes as well.

Jake Brake’s results are as follows:

1988 1999
Revenue $65M $220M
Headcount 550 575
Floor Space 240,000 240,000
2X 25X
On Time Delivery <20% >99%
Productivity 3.0 35.0
Operating Income 4% >30%
Development Cycle 72Mos. 16Mos.

Danaher was Shingijutsu’s only US client for the first four years. They eventually expanded to work for all of the Danaher companies with great results. Both Cosentino and I left in 1991 and took them with us. George K. became a Group Executive after I left and took over the Tool Group, which was created with the acquisition of Eastco Hand Tools. He moved Mark DeLuzio into the kaizen promotion office role and made huge improvements. Together they added Hoshin Planning to our existing kaizen approach and created what is now known as the famous Danaher Business System.

Beyond Danaher

George K. moved on about a year and a half after I did and ran the Hon Company’s major furniture business, where he again made major improvements. Mark DeLuzio remained head of the Danaher Business System Office for nine years and was the driving force behind the rapid integration and conversion of Danaher’s continuing string of acquisitions for many years. He continued to adhere to the principle that Mr. Nakao and Shingijutsu taught us early on and this in large part has led to Danaher’s tremendous success. In fact, after George K., Bob Pentland, John Cosentino and I left, Mark was the only one remaining with the knowledge to be the driving force for lean in Danaher and deserves a major amount of the credit. He created the leadership development program where future leaders rotate through the DBS office for development purposes. He created the M&A integration process as well as the due diligence process as it related to DBS. And along with Larry Culp, Danaher CEO (and now the CEO of GE), developed the strategic planning process for all of Danaher. You can learn from Mark by buying his new book Flatlined: Why Lean Transformations Fail and What to Do About It .

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane. All of the lessons learned are still applicable today. Making such drastic changes was a lot of work but at the same time was a lot of fun. We crammed more learning into just a couple of years than most people experience over their whole careers. Danaher is a great example to follow and I hope you do.

Written by:

About Art Byrne

Retired CEO, The Wiremold Company

Author, The Lean Turnaround and The Lean Turnaround Action Guide

Best known as the CEO who led an aggressive lean conversion that increased The Wiremold Company’s enterprise value by 2,467% in just under ten years, Art is the author of the best-selling books  The Lean Turnaround  and  The Lean Turnaround Action Guide . His lean journey began with his first general manager’s job at General Electric Company in January 1982. Later, as group executive of Danaher Corporation, Art worked with Shingijutsu Global Consulting from Nagoya, Japan, all ex-Toyota Corporation experts, to initiate lean at Danaher. 

During his career, the Shingo Institute recognized Art with two awards: it bestowed the Shingo Prize to Wiremold in 1999 while he was CEO and the Shingo Publication Award to The Lean Turnaround Action Guide in 2018. Art is also a member of the AME (American Association of Manufacturing Excellence) Hall of Fame and the IndustryWeek magazine Manufacturing Hall of Fame. In addition, he has written the popular “Ask Art” articles monthly since mid-2013, compiling more than 80 of them for LEI’s Lean Post . 

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Benchmarks & Client Cases

Continuous Profitable Growth at Danaher Corporation

problem solving process danaher

• Up to 1991, the Danaher Production System only sought to improve costs

• The impact on sales was indirect (through Quality and JIT Delivery)

• No improvement on Innovation, Product Development , Sales or Logistics

Root Causes

• No model or tools to improve non-production departments

• Top Management not seeing the benefits

• Strategy planning not following Lean principles

The solution

Danaher business system.

Danaher Business System

• Expand Lean to Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)

• Expand Lean to business processes and engage the Top Management

• Expand Lean to cover idea-to-execution processes

The Results

The Danaher Business System improvement culture together with the improved Strat to Action process yielded impressive results.

Total return, dividends reinvested

Total return, dividends reinvested

Because of the DBS Culture and the Strat to Action Process, Danaher has  grown  profitably by almost  20%  every year. This is also reflected in its  market valuation :  80,000%  since 1980.

Total Shareholder Return, CAGR 2000-2010

Total Shareholder Return

The generation of extremely high Free Cash Flow allowed the company to implement a very  successful M&A Strategy  with a  strong impact on Total Shareholder Returns (TSR) .

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Danaher: A Culture of Continuous Improvement Part 1

“don’t let perfect get in the way of better.”.

problem solving process danaher

The following is part of the premium newsletter exploring owner-operators and cultures of publicly traded companies. Keep in mind I may own or have owned the company discussed. None of this is investment advice, do your own due diligence.

Find the archive of companies and people explored here

problem solving process danaher

Danaher is the industrial giant few have heard of. How unknown it is despite its global prominence—it manufactured everything from lab equipment for molecular testing, hospital equipment, water testing equipment, truck parts to the chair in your dentist’s office—is a cliche in itself. 

Yet, what’s mentioned even less is how Danaher was one of the first companies to deploy lean methodologies into its operations. This was before the software companies made it cool. In fact, Danaher's been able to do it successfully over ~30 years from the world of trucks to lab testing equipment while acquiring 400+ companies. 

Fundamental to Danaher’s success over the years was the Danaher Business System (DBS). It was, and still is, Danaher’s competitive advantage. It’s how they uphold their core belief that “The Best Team Wins.” 

Big in Plain Sight

Today, Danaher (DHR) has a market cap of ~$210b. In 2020, it had sales of $22b, operating profits of ~$4b and ~$5 in free cash flow. Netflix—a company we’re familiar with for comparison—has a market cap of ~$230b and had sales of ~$24b. Yes, it is a consumer media business so it makes sense we know it. But DHR has a similar size and it touches our lives in more ways than we realize. 

It was founded in 1984 by the Rales brothers, Steven and Mitchell Rales. The brothers operated a commercial real estate business called DMG in the late 60s—it was the predecessor of DHR. 

The brothers wanted to move away from that business and had the idea to acquire and fix up manufacturing businesses. DHR was born, as a result, named after the Danaher river they often fished at and came up with the idea for the business. Since starting out with a dozen businesses, DHR has acquired ~450 businesses over its nearly 40-year history. 

The ~450 businesses are split up into 20+ operating companies that operate as independent companies with their own C-suite and executive teams. They are further categorized under three platforms: Life Sciences, Diagnostics, and Environmental & Applied Solutions.

Though it’s headquartered in Washington D.C. its operating businesses are everywhere. It’s a business with ~69k employees with more than 50% operating outside the U.S. 

In 2020, only ~40% of its sales were attributable to North America, the next largest region was the high-growth market—made up of countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and developing Asian nations—that made up 30% of sales. 

DHR is big, but it was bigger before. I mentioned DHR had three platforms the 20+ operating businesses were categorized into. This is what the operation looks like today:

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Danaher’s India Development Center: Impacting Global Operations with a Silo-Free Approach to Problem-Solving

When Danaher wanted to strengthen its global hub for research and development two years ago, the company made Venkataraman Ravikumar (Ravi) the Vice President of the India Development Center (IDC). Below, Ravi discusses the IDC’s place in the Danaher family, how its work influences Danaher and the world, and how it provides top talent with career growth opportunities.

What is the IDC, and how did it start?

The India Development Center is a multi-platform, multi-operating company (OpCo) ecosystem that serves as the center of gravity for software delivery and product development for Danaher across the globe. We represent 14 different OpCos, and we have about 800 people working here, creating solutions that meet the needs of all Danaher OpCos, not just those represented in the IDC.

The IDC started eight years ago as a Beckman Coulter R&D group in diagnostics, but Danaher took governance of the IDC about two years ago. It was primarily a software design and delivery center, but there was a desire to move into hardware development, chemistry, and all product development globally. We are also slowly getting more into digital work, such as providing artificial intelligence, machine learning, data sciences, hardware design and subsystem-level engineering.

How do OpCos come together there?

Danaher is an OpCo-centric organization. We created a governance structure for the IDC so that when an OpCo signs on with IDC, it joins a steering committee which includes one member for each of the 14 OpCos.

The committee meets once every three months to evaluate which cross-platform IDC initiatives—processes, people or growth and innovation—need to be prioritized. The impact of this is felt by all of the OpCos.

We also use a multi-OpCo test bed to try and make improvements in our processes and the way we deliver software. Within the IDC, collaboration is key and we operate without silos; this model allows us to make improvements that not only serve individual OpCos, but Danaher as a whole. It’s common to see associates from multiple OpCos working together to solve a problem. If something works in the IDC across multiple platforms, we package it and push it through the Danaher Business System for continuous improvement across the entire globe.

Employees of Danaher's India Development Center share and celebrate culture.

How does the IDC develop talent and promote the career growth of associates?

The IDC has very strong associate value propositions. For example, all of the 14 OpCos in the IDC are consistent with compensation, benefits around work from home and health insurance coverage. Our commitment to consistency also informs our Diversity + Inclusion efforts, ensuring that every associate within the IDC is treated equitably.

We partner with Udemy, so every associate here has a license, and they can get as many certifications as they want across any course Udemy offers. We also have a separate education policy in which we reimburse up to a pretty large amount every year for higher learning.

And lastly, whenever a leader for any OpCo visits, there are opportunities for everybody at IDC to interact with them. This gives associates the ability to network, and the ability to understand the industry and how the customers benefit from you across multiple platforms.

What challenges is IDC working on at this moment?

We are in the middle of our journey transforming from software development to product development. Different OpCos are at different maturity levels in this transition, which means there is a lot of work to be done to integrate some of the less mature OpCos.

For me, the definition of success would be when I don’t have to talk to people about the differentiation between software development and product development. When it becomes common knowledge that if something needs to get done, IDC is the only destination to get it done.

problem solving process danaher

What skills are you looking for in candidates?

There are many skills required for candidates to succeed at the IDC. One of the most important is the “jugaad” mentality, which is a “let’s figure it out” solution mentality. However, Danaher believes in standard work and process, so we blend the “jugaad” mentality with the Danaher Business System collaborative approach to continuous improvement. A highly successful person in the IDC has that Indian element of crazy innovation, but at the same time, they are structured and able to follow through on an action plan, all while being comfortable with ambiguity.

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  • Danaher Business System

The shift from traditional small-molecule based drugs to biologic compounds has created significant opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry. However, biopharma companies continue to face key barriers, such as siloed infrastructure, a lack of innovative tools, and slow lead and response times.

Danaher Life Sciences companies apply the Danaher Business System (DBS) as the foundation of our culture.

We do not accept the status quo, we aim for continuous process improvement. Whether applied to developing life-saving therapies, industrializing biology or a wide variety of other meaningful efforts, DBS empowers us to apply our culture of innovation to strive for transformation in the biopharmaceutical industry..

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DBS action

Hear from the head of our DBS Office how Danaher Life Sciences leads change and enables transformative outcomes using the principles and tools of DBS:

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  • Optimizing Process for Results with DBS

The Secret Sauce of Successful Business Systems 

October 2022.

  Length: 34 minutes

Meghan Phillips, VP of Danaher Business System 

Fast talking, passionate competitor, and process oriented, Meghan has moved up quickly within Hach to leading the DBS effort. Growing up as the oldest, she was always focused on leading, improving processes and ensuring the best result was achieved. This mindset was a natural progression into the role she has today with Hach.

Dive in and understand how Danaher Business System (DBS) drives Hach and is instilled into everything we do. Hear how identifying your North Star will help guide you down a path that you can apply DBS to. Learn about continuous improvement, Kaizen, Gemba and more.


Meghan Phillips:

What I found was a huge light bulb moment for me, when we think about a HACH person coming on site and having a conversation with a customer and saying, "Hey, what are your challenges? What does your process look like?" Asking questions along, "What are you trying to measure? What's working, what's not? What do your associates do on a day to day basis?" You might not know it, but every single one of those conversations is based in DBS.

Stacey Flax:

Today, we're going to talk about what winning looks like with Meghan Phillips, Vice President of DBS here at HACH. Welcome to Testing the Waters. I'm your host, Stacey Flax.

So Meghan, we're so excited to have you today. You have such a unique role here, and we would like to hear more about Meghan, but also your role at Danaher and how HACH as an Opco, what that relationship looks like. So we'll start with who's Meghan?

Sure. So my name is Meghan Phillips. My formal title is I'm the Vice President of Danaher Business System here at HACH. That's a pretty big mouthful, but what everything that encompasses that is I'm responsible for our continuous improvement culture. I'm responsible for partnering with every functional team to help deploy the DBS or Danaher Business System. But I do that within HACH.

And you mentioned Opco, so what is that? Well, you got to start with what is DBS? So the Danaher Business System, at its core definition, it's our competitively advantaged system of continuous improvement and the culture that makes it work. But if you think about HACH as a business, it's a really large operating company, has a great history and a legacy, but it's one of many companies underneath the portfolio that is Danaher.

So Danaher Corporation of a Fortune 250, a conglomerate in a wide variety of tech sciences and other spaces. So the exciting part is, hey, each company, something like HACH, has a dedicated customer base, it has a dedicated set of products, it has an incredible history. But there are different companies in the Danaher portfolio, how do they all succeed? How do they all partner together? Well, one of the key pieces of the secret sauce is DBS. And so the exciting part for me is I'm the linchpin that helps bring some of that culture of our corporate environment into the key pieces that help make HACH successful.

That's awesome. You said a lot. So it sounds like it's the toolbox, which is the DBS system, and the people, the culture, and you put it together, and it's this amazing, as you said, secret sauce that makes the business work.

Yeah. So for those that might not be familiar, there's a lot of pieces that might sound, things that you hear in the business space like Lean manufacturing or Six Sigma, but at its core, the Danaher Business System, like you mentioned, it is a set of tools or resources. But beyond that, it's essentially who we are and what we do.

So it's a huge differentiator for how Danaher is built, how HACH is built, because every single function or team has access and resources to key tools, whether that's our distribution centers and our manufacturing facilities, whether that's our R and D and innovation engine, our customer facing teams, we all have access to different ways that we can do things like problem solving and innovation, and that's all linked to the core foundation of our set of tools in DBS.

Okay. So is that something similar to what maybe Toyota has?

Yeah, it's interesting you say that because the origin of Lean manufacturing came out of Toyota or the Toyota production system. And you'll actually probably hear me talk a little bit about this as I go deeper, you're going to hear words that are actually based in Japanese. And so there's a lot of this that come from that original culture, but the exciting piece is Danaher has an incredible legacy. And that legacy means that we've seen our own evolution.

So one of the phrases you heard me describe is continuous improvement. So we didn't just take a set of tools, use those once and decide, hey, that was good enough. We've taken tools and continually evolve them and then expanded them. So like I said, not just in manufacturing, not just in how we're producing our parts, but it's also in how we're doing things like customer relationships. So we're going to continue to use and evolve our tools year in, year out, but it's also that culture piece, which means it's tied hugely to our associates and our talent.

Awesome. So you've talked about your role here and what you do, what do you do for fun?

Yeah, well it's really interesting because as I think about how I ended up in this career path, because it's not a traditional career trajectory, so I've been with HACH here for just over three years, but I've been part of the Danaher portfolio of companies for a little over 11 years. And my background is in supply chain and operations, which as I mention, is the origin of DBS. But if I think about who I am and how I ended up in this path, it all seems to make sense.

So if you've spent any time with me, you'll learn I talk fast. I'm a passionate competitor. I am extremely process oriented. And that goes back to probably day one of when I was born. I've been in competitive sports probably at a very young age. I love softball and volleyball, but I am an eldest daughter. So if you think a little bit about my style and my energy, I have been the person that's been the logistical coordinator. I'm the person that always wanted to optimize processes. I hate things like waste and wasting time. Traffic is probably my number one enemy, because it's just an absolute waste of anyone's time and effort.

But all of those things, I think even in college and coming into the career workspace in corporate America, I never had a language, a language to describe what I wanted to do or where I was ultimately passionate to spend my time. But if you put all those pieces together, it's I wanted to be a problem solver. I wanted to win, and I wanted to really challenge the status quo and do things better. Well that's continuous improvement.

So I found a home in Danaher and in DBS. I started in the dental platform of companies. So there used to be a set of companies underneath Danaher that made a bunch of dental products. The company I worked for made orthodontics, so helping everything to straighten teeth. So you might think, hey, what on earth does braces have to do with water technology and water analytics? Well, the cool thing is all of that is about delivering value to our customers. And we use the same process, mechanism and language to be successful, and that's been the exciting part of my career is really finding that there's a language for where I get my passion from and that's teaching ultimately how everyone can tap into that same skill set.

That's awesome. It's a skill that is such a good fit for your role. And if you take a step back, you said you knew that you wanted to do this since you were a kid. So were you the one that everybody went to and said, "Hey, can you help me plan this?"

Oh yeah. I think probably good, better, otherwise, everyone jokes that they were always the lead of the group projects, but I probably wasn't just the lead of the group projects, I was like, "What's our process? How do we make this better? Are we sure that we should be spending time on this thing? We need to build a structure." I probably would drive a lot of my team members or my brothers in that instance, crazy with the way of saying, hey, well if we're going to go on this trip, do we have the right itinerary and are we flying into the right airports?

But ultimately, I think if you look back, and part of the reason that I love doing what I do is you can't argue with results. And if you want to go on a vacation with me or you want to think about optimizing a process in your home, I will tell you that it is a little bit painful as you're learning how my brain works, but you get really good results at the end.

That's awesome. Yeah, I can think back. My kids go to a school and we moved, and so I was like, okay. So I knew it took 12 minutes to get there at my old house. Let me back into this problem because I need an idea to know how early I need to leave to get there and get them on time.

So backing into something as simple as getting your kids to school and using that process, you mentioned process. Using that process to have the best results, the best timing, and ultimately get what I set out to get, which is my kids to school on time. That's really cool.

It's really interesting and exciting for me because I think about at its core, every human being, whether you're working at a large company like HACH or whether you're managing a home, it comes down to do you know what winning looks like? And it might be, am I getting my kids to school on time and is it not chaos? That's number one. I know what winning looks like if I can say, "Hey, everyone arrived. They're all fully dressed. And we got there roughly around the time they needed to."

With managed chaos.

Exactly. But the exciting part is every time you do this, you have opportunity in learnings to get things better and you can actually start challenging the status quo and you say, "Hey, I got there in 12 minutes." Maybe it's not a big win for you to get there in 11 minutes. Cool, that's not a big difference. But it might be different to get there and say, "I had time for a catch up with my kids before they leave the car." Or, "They left with everything they were supposed to, all of their homework and their lunch." Those are the things that we as a business take and put at a huge operational level.

So I always like to challenge, I'm using them in my own home. Good, bad or otherwise, I'm sure my husband would be disagreeing that it's always great to be DBSing in the house, but there is a huge benefit that comes from thinking about what winning looks like and challenging yourselves to get closer and closer to that every single day.

You said what winning looks like. And we do need to, because if you think about what winning looks like, then you can better define the steps that you need to take to get there. And if you just say, "Oh, I want to score a touchdown." Okay, but how do you get there? You have to have different roles on the playing field and people doing different things, feeding in. There's different plays and processes. So it's really cool.

Tell me a little bit about maybe some of your biggest learnings in this role.

Yeah, so the exciting part is, again, I feel like I'm a champion of culture. So beyond just a person that's supposed to be a tool expert or a person that's supposed to empower processes, I feel like I'm trying to bring people along on their own journey towards thinking a little bit more DBS. And the exciting part is the vast majority of our HACH associates, we drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago. We know the benefits and the value that come from this.

And it might be easy if I think... Describing this a bit like an analogy. So if a person or a team or a business is trying to achieve some goal, I design it a little bit like a mason jar. This is ultimately the capacity that I have to deliver on whatever my target is. That might be a perfect product to a customer. It might be growing the business in a key new region, whatever it is, the jar is what I've got. That's the capacity that I have to go and achieve my goal, whatever that might be. The business, what it's going to do, is it's going to evaluate how I deliver that, is it's going to fill the jar. It's going to fill the jar with these rocks. These rocks are the processes, the tools, the mechanisms that say, "Hey, ultimately if I can do these things and do these things well, I'm going to get the best result that I want."

The problem is, you're going to fill these rocks and there might be early ideas, they might be great options, but if you look at that mason jar full of rocks, you're going to see a lot of white space. You're going to see a lot of things in there that show you, hey, I might not be doing this in most effective way.

The biggest thing that I love about DBS, and I think about the exciting part of my job is we never want to ask people to do more than they want to or are capable of doing. That jar is the capacity of an associate. If you think about the world we're navigating right now, phrases that come up, stress, burnout. We're navigating an incredibly complex environment. We're navigating a pandemic. There's a lot of the pieces of saying, "Hey, I want my associates to feel like they are delivering success, but I don't want them burning out. I don't want to ask them to do more with less."

So what does that mean? How do I do this? How do I work smarter, not harder? Well, what that is I take different tools of my DBS toolbox. So in this case, maybe a rock hammer. And I take that rock out and I challenge it. I challenge and understand what are my areas of opportunity? What are my areas that I can no longer do or no longer want to do because they don't deliver my goal? Or what can I operationalize or automate or make easier for my team?

Well if I start breaking up that rock, all of a sudden I put it back into the jar and I've taken away waste or mooda is a Japanese word for that. And I've made it easier to deliver on that opportunity. I've worked smarter, I've used my tools.

The exciting part though, my work's not done, because I now have a different set of tools because now that I've got gravel in this jar, I can take a different tool and I can start to pulverize and pound that into sand. And I want to say, "Okay, now what else can I do to find even new ways of doing this process?"Well, okay, now that I've got the sand out there, can I take a machine and really pressure that down? And now I'm getting into super fine powder.

Well, now is a question you think, okay, I've opened up a bunch of space in this jar. I'm delivering incredible results. I am contributing quality, innovation, key items for my customer, but I've opened up white space. So now what?

Well, I get an opportunity to design what comes next. Do I put new rocks in there to start thinking through what comes next? Do I leave that white space for white space thinking and breakthrough? Do I focus on talent, development, education, customer partnership? I get a lot of flexibility about what I do as a business. It's such a unique opportunity if I think about the fact that I haven't made the jar bigger. I haven't asked my associates to do more, but I'm still delivering the same results, but I'm doing it in a different way. And then I get to add more things and I get to go do new problem solving and I get to keep doing that with a whole different set of tools every single day.

Obviously the DBS system is Danaher's, but the same type of process, problem solving, right?

For example, can be utilized by all of our audience members in so many different ways. So give us an example of how someone could use something like a DBS tool to let's say, in their home, maybe in a municipal or industrial setting?

Yeah. Well, it's super exciting to me because part of the reason that I love the job that I do is I get to take super complicated tools. If you think Lean, Six Sigma, these are complicated mathematical, analytical tools, but I get to make them applicable to any set of the business. So I can do it to the home, and I promise you that I do it.

So one example I like to think about is the kitchen. So most people have access to a kitchen in their homes, but you might think about the different stakeholders that use the kitchen. So depending on the size of your family, you might have someone who's the cook. You might have someone who's the cLeaner. You might have somebody who just makes the mess, goes and finds the snacks. But every single person in there has a different need for the kitchen.

Okay. So you've got a bunch of different needs of what winning would look like for that kitchen. But the kitchen also forms a wide variety of functions. It needs to be your inventory. So it's housing your pantry, your fridge, your freezer. It needs to be all of your tools, appliances on how you get things done. It needs to be the place where relationships and moments happen. Are you having a social experience? Do you have a table in there? Do you have an island that people sit at and prep together? But ultimately, it's a place of nourishment. Are you able to cook effectively in there and then ultimately clean up that mess? In the space of one area of the home. That's a lot of process.

It's a lot of things. One of the phrases I like to use is, it's called a spaghetti diagram. So it's a good example to be using the kitchen, but it's how all of these lines of process intersect with each other. And I'm sure anyone that's ever cooked in the kitchen during a busy season like the holiday season has bumped into people, run out of room, run out of places in the sink, they don't have enough space in the oven. All of that is a way of thinking about how process can make things better.

So for example, how are you thinking about your inventory on a regular basis? Do you go to the grocery store every week? Do you go to the grocery store every month? I know for my family, we have to think about a Costco run versus our grocery store run. What do we get and how big and do I have space for it? Okay, so that's inventory management. A tool we would use in our DBS system is Kanban, a Lean replenishment system that ensures that you're not carrying too much. So I don't have room in my freezer for 90 days worth of chicken, but I also have just enough so I can make sure I can make meals for the next week to two weeks to three weeks. I don't have to go to Costco every single day.

But the other end is, are my tools at the right place? So there's a tool that lets us think about how we are designing the layout or footprint of a manufacturing facility, a distribution center or a kitchen in this instance for where do my spoons go? Where does my microwave go? If I'm doing my prep, do all my cutting boards sit next to my knives? And when I'm done, where's my trash can so I'm putting all of my waste into the bin?

You'd be surprised if you even just think about prepping one meal, let's say baking a birthday cake. How much are you walking in your kitchen to achieve a single task? So our job as we think about DBS is how are you thinking about the process, what winning would look like, and what are all the key metrics or key performance indicators or KPIs, as we say in Danaher, what are those things that we are measuring that show us we're getting closer to success? And then how do we innovate and problem solve to make things just a little bit easier?

So what you're telling me is when I moved into my new house and I knew in the morning, I got to make my coffee, I got to get the kids lunch ready. So as I was going through that process over the past couple of days, I moved stuff around because it took me too long to get from the pantry to the coffee maker. And then there was just so many things that I ended up changing to make it more efficient, more timely, so that I had that extra, as you said in the mason jar, that extra room that I could fill with talking to the kids in the morning or making sure their Chromebooks were in their book bags. So you really can, and like you said, it puts some structure and a name around a process of a way of thinking.

Yeah. So it's really fun if you think about, and I say fun, might not be fun for everybody as they're going through it, but it's fun for me if I think about how much time I get back to get to choose what I get to do with it.

So for example, I love to make cookies at the holiday time, but I'm also not a super great baker. For me, I think I'm more into the fun and the experience of it, but it takes a lot of tools, it takes a lot of ingredients, and it's a very precise science. So I'm intense when I try and set that out. But if I've set up my kitchen correctly and I have a flow of my dry ingredients, my wet ingredients, they flow into my oven and I can do a sequence of events. One, I get cookies that look the same and they taste pretty great and it's a lower stress environment for me to deliver whatever it is that I'm trying to do. I get to have some fun while I do it. So there is something a little bit about being intentional about how you think through that process.

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm thinking too, even from whether it's an industrial, municipal, maybe just a wastewater facility, and right now we do have labor shortages, so you're having to do more with less. So taking a step back and putting a process like that to the table and saying, "Okay, we know this is our main goal. We know that we have less to get there. Maybe less tools, maybe less budget." So working through that, it sounds like a tool like a DBS tool or something, just that process thinking would really help out.

Do you have any examples from, again, just thinking about municipal customers of how they could apply a similar process and come out with a more efficient process in the end?

Yeah. Well the exciting thing for me, and I would say even as part of my own journey, when I came and I first joined HACH, one, I was so passionate about what DBS could do, the wide variety of tools, and we have over 50 tools that all have different levels of complexity. But what I found was a huge light bulb moment for me was the connection point between our HACH team and our customer.

Because when I think DBS, a lot of times you might be hearing things, whether you're reading shareholder reports or you're reading anything that talks about company performance, it's very inwardly focused. Like, "Hey, we use a lot of these great tools, they make us really great, aren't you super thrilled?" But the exciting part I think about what DBS does is it creates an engine for our connection with our customer.

And the moment that I think it was really great and could be applicable for our municipal team is when we think about a HACH person coming on site and having a conversation with a customer and saying, "Hey, what are your challenges? What does your process look like?" Asking questions along, what are you trying to measure? What's working, what's not? What do your associates do on a day to day basis? You might not know it, but every single one of those conversations is based in DBS. Because what we're trying to do is not necessarily deploy a DBS tool explicitly, but we're trying to do is be collaborative problem solvers with you.

And that was a huge light bulb moment for me because it became super exciting, not just about driving culture within HACH, but in driving culture and improvement alongside and in partnership with our customers. Because where DBS becomes extremely powerful is when there is a hunger and a need to say, "Wait, can I do this a little bit better? Can I do this a little bit differently? If I move this instrument over into this space or if I create a new process with my lab testing or I think about a different type of chemistry, can I optimize my process? Can I get time back to do other value activities? Can I go ahead and make this more compliant or more straightforward or easier on my associates?" Every single one of those questions that we ask internally then becomes an opportunity for us to deliver the same type of benefit when we're problem solving with our customers.

There's a ton of value there, because you're walking through the process with the customer. So they're going to pick up on some of that and hopefully in turn, utilize some of those same problem solving in their own environment and then teach others. So it's like a continuous learning process improvement, right?

You touched on it, but when you have that extra space, you do have an opportunity for the innovations. Think about your parking lot ideas or you threw some spaghetti on the wall and some of it stuck and some of it didn't, let's pick up some of those pieces that didn't stick and let's try it again because we have that extra time, and we have a process in place that makes it so much more efficient.

Yeah. Well the part for me that I think I get most excited about when I think about that white space, and I think about we've opened up opportunity of we opened up a creative space is the fact that within DBS is a fail fast mentality. What it means is that we don't let perfect get in the way of better. We don't feel like everything needs to be perfectly calibrated and perfectly set up to have the exact right process. Because incremental improvements on a consistent basis drive so much more impact.

So something I like to talk about that shows that is something called the kaizen process. So we're firm believers in kaizen, which is a word in Japanese that means continuous improvement. We deliberately run kaizen events, which are focused, targeted, cross-functional events, targeting and solving a specific problem. We may use a different set of tools, but the goal is put ourselves in a room, put a bunch of really committed and cross-functional experts and go and tackle the problem in a blitz and really create an environment where we walk away from our day jobs to say, "This is a focused issue. What do we want to do with this?"

Whether it's building a new process or tackling an area of opportunity or doing breakthrough thinking, we're doing it in the room. We also recognize though, when you put those kinds of things and we say we're going to do this in a week, which oftentimes they are, you're going to be putting yourselves in this stressful environment. You're going to be having to think outside the box and you're going to have to put ideas, throw spaghetti and see what sticks. The fun part of this is we're also completely that a lot of them don't, and we're creating an environment where people's ideas are welcome. We bring a lot of diverse perspectives, it's a huge piece of conversation for us, but ultimately, we're going to come out better, stronger, faster, because we have all of that thought process.

Now, I'll be the first to admit when you're going through the kaizen piece, we talk about Wednesday and Wednesday is the piece where we say we hit sometimes the valley of despair because that's where the real rubber meets the road of this is a big problem. We admit what we want to do and where we are today, our current state to where we want our future state to be. And we also recognize that we got a lot of work to do. But there's something so incredibly powerful about the people in the room uniting together and deciding what that future state could look like, building the bridge to deliver on something brand new. And you get to see that in the fact that we continually get to innovate. We don't just run one kaizen, we run tons of kaizen events across the organization in a wide variety of functions because we believe that you can do continuous improvement every single day.

So if you were to think about the future, what does that future landscape look like?

Well, look, everyone can acknowledge right now we are not dealing in normal times. So not only we're navigating a global pandemic, inflation, we talk about the socioeconomic environments that we are in, there is a lot going on. It is impacting our associates, it's impacting our customers, it's impacting corporate America. It's impacting the corporate landscape globally. What's coming to fruition here is who's going to thrive coming out of this, and who's trying to survive? And look, there's going to be a lot of learnings for a lot of companies as they're navigating this space. But the future for me is extremely optimistic because Danaher, HACH, all of our associates are in the prime position to be leveraging an incredible learning cycle. So every single day as we were navigating all of this change and the change that will continue, let's be honest, there is a lot of this where we set ourselves up to be a stronger company coming out of this.

So we get to actually decide what does the future look like for our customers and share that value and share that opportunity. We get to ask ourselves, what does the future state of HACH look like and how do we do that by doing the right talent development, the right investment, and more tools and education? We get to do all of these things and we get to say, "Okay, so the future of this is even more of the strong HACH legacy that we're used to, but a further entrenchment of, hey, leveraging this culture of continuous improvement to deliver even more every single day."

And listening to the customers, you mentioned that. Going to Gemba and being on the floor with them and hearing their feedback and putting that into that continuous improvement process. It's like the other day, and this is just something very simple, but I made my kids lunch. Let's go back to the lunch box, because that's what I do a lot. Made my kids lunch, sent it to school, I didn't ask them what they wanted. And then when they came home, I looked to see what was still in the lunch box, trying to again, continuously improve and not waste food, make sure they have enough to eat, make sure I have a good balance of veggies, fruit, snacks. And again, it's a process that I didn't realize I was using at home already, and it just puts some structure and a name around it, which is I think so cool.

And if you think about expanding this into the world we're in, you can't go more than five seconds without hearing things around the supply chain crisis. A ton of businesses right now navigating access to components, navigating complexities of just how do you get the stuff that you need to deliver to your customers? And look, we are not immune to navigating that same space, but we are also not going to be in a position where we are trying to limp along.

So similar to getting a little bit smarter, a little bit more processed towards your lunchbox, we are going to come out of this not just with how did we navigate this space of these last two, three years? We're going to come out of this stronger with process, with an incredible set of tools, resources, and associates that are now going to be in a situation where I'll knock on wood and say, hey, I hope we don't have to navigate something like the crisis we're in now, but we are going to be set up for success to be that much more prepared if anything like this happens again.

And that's the best part I think about working for a place like HACH and working for a place like Danaher is we don't just solve a problem for right now, we solve a problem for the long term.

Yeah, it gives you the tools to really look ahead and say as a risk management, planning, all of those really important pieces of looking to the future and making sure that you get there, right?

Yeah, absolutely.

So if you had a key takeaway for our audience today, something that you could tell them or give them, some advice you could give them in their own place of business or home, what would that be?

Yeah, so I think I go back to I love having a true north star. So I think about whatever process, whatever department I'm working with, whatever team, even if it's with an associate or I'm thinking about my own home, I want my north star of what winning looks like. And when you've got a good sense of defining that true north star, then you can start to say, "Okay, where am I starting today?" A phrase we like to use is learning to see. How do you learn to see your current state of how you are delivering against that north star?

Now sometimes that means being brutally honest with yourself and saying, "Wow, I got a gap to this. I really wish that when I did laundry, I immediately folded it and put it away. That's not my north star. I'm not delivering to that today. "That's just the reality. But acknowledging and saying, "My current state and here is the difference between that north star," now all of a sudden you can take a key look and say, "What are the critical few items that I want to go and do that are going to deliver me one step closer?"

I think where people get hung up as they think about running an enterprise or they think about tacking something as complex as continuous improvement or Lean manufacturing is, but I'm not an expert, but I haven't spent 30 years deploying Lean, Six Sigma or a lot of these really, really intense analytical tools. But you know what you do have? Knowledge and expertise of step one. And that's step one is a marginal improvement against my current state closer to my north star. And if you start with step one, step two becomes that much easier and that much easier/

It's not overwhelming. And then you mentioned stress is a term we hear today, and I think we're all a little overwhelmed, especially with the changes that we're just not expecting or used to. And so having those steps that we can follow and taking one bite of the cookie at a time, it's not as overwhelming and we don't lose that initiative to continue moving forward, because we know that if we finish one step and we get there, we take it bite by bite, we'll eventually make it.

Yeah, and I think the piece to me, I would say a big takeaway for anyone that's interested in going down a journey of continuous improvement is to think about... I go back to my high school physics when I talk about inertia and inertia is real. Whether you're talking about a municipal plants, whether you're talking about in your home or you're talking about a manufacturing company, it doesn't matter. Inertia is real. So as you think about how you've always done things or you think about the processes that currently exist, that first move will always be hardest. It's that first step of creating that momentum and that energy.

But when you get to things like continuous improvement, I mentioned that it's a system and it's a set of tools and resources, but it's also the culture. And when you begin to do something like the culture that we have here at HACH and at Danaher, you start to notice that it generates its own momentum, it becomes an engine. And that's the part to me that becomes really powerful is that the people learn and drive and become really empowered to use those tools and resources to continue the momentum. And then you'll find problem solvents happen all over the place. And that's the part I think to me, that you can see in the results.

So I think I talked a little bit about myself, like why and how I ended up in this space, and it's I like to win. So if I know what winning looks like, and I like to win, but I like to win as a team. And so if there's any big takeaway that I want someone to really feel about this is where are you bringing your team together to go ahead and find a way to win?

I like that. I like that, because I think winning as a team, it's critical. You win as a team, whether it's in the family structure, whether it's in a business structure, whether it's in sports, you do, you win as a team.

I think that's great. Well thank you so much, Meghan. Is there anything else you want to add or?

No, I think if anything, there's a big piece of, if you haven't heard of DBS or you haven't felt the DBS touch, I promise you that it's so ingrained as to part of who we are. I would encourage anyone to reach out and ask. We're happy to share a little bit about our own journeys and our own way we use these tools as HACH associates. But the biggest takeaway for me is how powerful it can be with these tools. Not just driving our internal optimized processes and making us a better company, but making us a better service for our customers. Because every single thing that we're doing is about delivering a product, a service, or a solution that makes our customers' job easier. So might as well find a way to bring DBS just a little bit closer to wherever it is that you work.

I love that. Partner, collaborate on winning, right?

Yes, absolutely.

I love it. Well, thank you so much, Meghan. It was great to have you, and we look forward to talking shortly again.

Awesome. Thanks for the time, Stacey. I appreciate it.


Danaher: selection and interview process, questions/answers.

Rahul Singh

problem solving process danaher

Danaher is a leading diversified industrial conglomerate with a strong focus on the life sciences and diagnostics sectors. They design, manufacture, and sell innovative products and services that help improve health and wellbeing worldwide.

Here’s a quick look at Danaher:

  • Founded in 1984 by brothers Steven and Mitchell Rales
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C., USA
  • Operates through several successful operating companies in life sciences, diagnostics, environmental, and applied technologies.
  • Known for their Danaher Business System (DBS) that emphasizes continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

Table of Contents

What are the selection and Interview process of Danaher?

The selection process at Danaher can vary depending on the specific role (engineering, sales, research & development), operating company, and level of experience required. Here’s a general breakdown of what you might encounter:

1. Application: Submit your application through the Danaher careers website.

2. Application Review: Recruiters will screen resumes and applications to shortlist candidates who meet the qualifications for the position.

3. Assessments: Some roles, particularly those requiring technical skills (engineering) or specific industry knowledge (life sciences, diagnostics), might involve online assessments to evaluate your abilities. These could be:

  • Technical Skills Assessments: These could assess your proficiency in relevant engineering software or tools used by Danaher companies (depending on the role).
  • Aptitude Tests: These might assess your problem-solving abilities, analytical skills, or other cognitive skills relevant to the position.

4. Interviews: If you progress further, prepare for one or more rounds of interviews:

  • Phone Interview: An initial phone interview with a recruiter or hiring manager from the specific operating company to discuss your background, interest in the role, and understanding of the relevant industry (life sciences, diagnostics, etc.).
  • Hiring Managers and Team Members from the relevant department or operating company.
  • Specialists or technical experts (for technical roles).
  • HR Representatives

5. Background Check: Upon receiving an offer, a background check is standard procedure.

Timeline: The interview process at Danaher can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the role and the number of candidates involved.

Here are some additional tips for succeeding in your Danaher interview:

  • Research the company: Learn about Danaher’s diverse operating companies, their focus on innovation and customer satisfaction through the Danaher Business System (DBS), and company culture, which emphasizes continuous improvement, collaboration, and a can-do attitude.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter: Highlight the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the specific position and operating company you are applying for. Showcase your technical skills, industry knowledge, or experience with continuous improvement methodologies if applicable.
  • Prepare for common interview questions: Research common interview questions in your field and be ready to showcase your skills and knowledge. Be ready to discuss your problem-solving approach and how you would contribute to a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Practice behavioral questions: Be prepared to answer questions about your past experiences and how they demonstrate your problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Danaher emphasizes a collaborative and results-oriented work environment.
  • Follow up: Thank the interviewer(s) for their time after the interview and reiterate your interest in the position and your desire to contribute to Danaher’s mission of improving lives.

By being well-prepared, demonstrating your qualifications, and showcasing your passion for innovation and making a positive impact, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job at Danaher.

How many rounds of interview conducted in Danaher?

The number of interview rounds at Danaher can vary depending on the specific role, department, and location. However, based on information from the Danaher careers website [1], you can generally expect:

  • One to three rounds after an initial screening or phone interview.

Possible Interview Stages:

  • Initial Screening: This typically involves submitting your resume and cover letter online. There might also be a brief phone call to discuss your qualifications and suitability for the role.
  • Phone Interview (possible for some roles): An initial conversation with a recruiter to discuss your experience and interest in Danaher.
  • In-Person Interviews (one to two rounds): These interviews could involve discussions with hiring managers, team members from the department you’re applying to, or specialists relevant to the role.

What is the salary for freshers in Danaher?

problem solving process danaher

Similar to the interview process, exact salary information for freshers at Danaher isn’t publicly available on their careers website. Here are some ways to get a better idea of the range:

  • Salary Websites: Explore salary websites like Glassdoor or Indeed. Search for similar roles in the manufacturing industry for entry-level positions. This can provide a general range.
  • Job Postings: Look at job postings for similar roles in your target location. Salary ranges might be mentioned in some postings, although this is less common.
  • Networking: If you know someone who works at Danaher, try reaching out to them for insights into starting salaries for freshers in your field.

Tips for Finding Salary Information:

  • Focus on Entry-Level Roles: When searching on salary websites or job boards, filter your search for “entry-level” or “freshers” positions to get a more accurate range for recent graduates.
  • Consider Location: Salaries can vary depending on the location of the job. Look for salary information specific to your target city or region.

By following these steps, you’ll gain a better understanding of the interview process and potential salary range for freshers at Danaher. Remember, your specific skills, experience, and qualifications can also influence your starting salary.

Top questions Asked for freshers in Danaher

Danaher, a science and technology innovator with a network of leading operating companies, offers various opportunities for recent graduates (freshers). Here are some general interview questions you might encounter, along with some specific examples depending on the role:

General Skills and Danaher’s Culture:

  • Tell me about yourself and your interest in Danaher. (Highlight relevant skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, analytical thinking (for some roles), and a focus on continuous improvement. Mention what interests you about Danaher’s innovative technologies, their focus on the Gemba (the place where the work gets done), or a specific operating company like Pall Corporation or Hach). Research Danaher Business System (DBS), their core values, and their emphasis on continuous improvement (Kaizen).
  • Describe a situation where you faced a challenge and how you overcame it. (Focus on problem-solving skills, resilience, and your ability to learn from mistakes).
  • Explain a time you had to work effectively in a team on a project. (Showcase your teamwork abilities and communication skills).
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Be honest but highlight strengths relevant to Danaher’s culture and your desired role, like attention to detail, strong work ethic, a willingness to learn quickly, and a data-driven approach).
  • Why do you want to work at Danaher? (Express your interest in science and technology, innovation, or a specific area of Danaher’s work (e.g., life sciences, environmental solutions), and how it aligns with your desire to learn and contribute in a fast-paced environment).
  • Do you have any questions for us? (Always have thoughtful questions prepared about the role, Danaher’s DBS and Kaizen philosophy, training programs for freshers, and opportunities to work across different Danaher companies).

Additional Questions (May Vary by Role):

  • (For Engineering Roles): Be prepared to discuss relevant coursework projects or any personal projects that showcase your technical skills. You might encounter basic technical questions or problems to solve.
  • (For Business Development Roles): How would you approach identifying new market opportunities for a Danaher technology?
  • (For Data Analysis Roles): How would you analyze data to improve the efficiency of a manufacturing process (common at Danaher companies)?
  • Research Danaher and their operating companies to understand their areas of expertise (demonstrates awareness).
  • Be prepared for questions about your ability to work in a fast-paced and data-driven environment.
  • Highlight your willingness to learn and adapt, as Danaher emphasizes continuous improvement.

How to apply for job in Danaher?

problem solving process danaher

Here’s a guide on applying for a job at Danaher:

  • Visit the Danaher Careers Website: Head over to Danaher Careers page.
  • Search for Jobs: Utilize keywords related to your field or browse by Danaher’s operating companies (e.g., Pall Corporation, Hach, Cepheid). Look for “Entry Level” or “Associate” positions that align with your skills and interests.
  • Find the Perfect Fit: Carefully read job descriptions and identify roles that align with your qualifications and aspirations within Danaher. Consider your strengths and what kind of work environment you prefer (engineering, research and development, business development, data analysis, or something else entirely).
  • Apply Online: Submit your application electronically for the chosen position. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific role and operating company, highlighting relevant coursework, any prior experience (if applicable), and your eagerness to learn and contribute to Danaher’s culture of continuous improvement.
  • Prepare for Interview: If shortlisted, research Danaher further, including their latest innovations and their DBS principles. Practice answering common interview questions and prepare thoughtful questions for the interviewer about the role, company culture, and opportunities for growth at Danaher, especially for freshers. Demonstrate your professionalism, strong work ethic, and potential to excel in a dynamic and learning-oriented environment.

By showcasing your relevant skills, interest in Danaher’s areas of expertise, and willingness to learn and adapt, you can increase your chances of landing a job at Danaher.

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Effective Problem-Solving Techniques in Business

Problem solving is an increasingly important soft skill for those in business. The Future of Jobs Survey by the World Economic Forum drives this point home. According to this report, complex problem solving is identified as one of the top 15 skills that will be sought by employers in 2025, along with other soft skills such as analytical thinking, creativity and leadership.

Dr. Amy David , clinical associate professor of management for supply chain and operations management, spoke about business problem-solving methods and how the Purdue University Online MBA program prepares students to be business decision-makers.

Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Essential in Leadership Roles?

Every business will face challenges at some point. Those that are successful will have people in place who can identify and solve problems before the damage is done.

“The business world is constantly changing, and companies need to be able to adapt well in order to produce good results and meet the needs of their customers,” David says. “They also need to keep in mind the triple bottom line of ‘people, profit and planet.’ And these priorities are constantly evolving.”

To that end, David says people in management or leadership need to be able to handle new situations, something that may be outside the scope of their everyday work.

“The name of the game these days is change—and the speed of change—and that means solving new problems on a daily basis,” she says.

The pace of information and technology has also empowered the customer in a new way that provides challenges—or opportunities—for businesses to respond.

“Our customers have a lot more information and a lot more power,” she says. “If you think about somebody having an unhappy experience and tweeting about it, that’s very different from maybe 15 years ago. Back then, if you had a bad experience with a product, you might grumble about it to one or two people.”

David says that this reality changes how quickly organizations need to react and respond to their customers. And taking prompt and decisive action requires solid problem-solving skills.

What Are Some of the Most Effective Problem-Solving Methods?

David says there are a few things to consider when encountering a challenge in business.

“When faced with a problem, are we talking about something that is broad and affects a lot of people? Or is it something that affects a select few? Depending on the issue and situation, you’ll need to use different types of problem-solving strategies,” she says.

Using Techniques

There are a number of techniques that businesses use to problem solve. These can include:

  • Five Whys : This approach is helpful when the problem at hand is clear but the underlying causes are less so. By asking “Why?” five times, the final answer should get at the potential root of the problem and perhaps yield a solution.
  • Gap Analysis : Companies use gap analyses to compare current performance with expected or desired performance, which will help a company determine how to use its resources differently or adjust expectations.
  • Gemba Walk : The name, which is derived from a Japanese word meaning “the real place,” refers to a commonly used technique that allows managers to see what works (and what doesn’t) from the ground up. This is an opportunity for managers to focus on the fundamental elements of the process, identify where the value stream is and determine areas that could use improvement.
  • Porter’s Five Forces : Developed by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, applying the Five Forces is a way for companies to identify competitors for their business or services, and determine how the organization can adjust to stay ahead of the game.
  • Six Thinking Hats : In his book of the same name, Dr. Edward de Bono details this method that encourages parallel thinking and attempting to solve a problem by trying on different “thinking hats.” Each color hat signifies a different approach that can be utilized in the problem-solving process, ranging from logic to feelings to creativity and beyond. This method allows organizations to view problems from different angles and perspectives.
  • SWOT Analysis : This common strategic planning and management tool helps businesses identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

“We have a lot of these different tools,” David says. “Which one to use when is going to be dependent on the problem itself, the level of the stakeholders, the number of different stakeholder groups and so on.”

Each of the techniques outlined above uses the same core steps of problem solving:

  • Identify and define the problem
  • Consider possible solutions
  • Evaluate options
  • Choose the best solution
  • Implement the solution
  • Evaluate the outcome

Data drives a lot of daily decisions in business and beyond. Analytics have also been deployed to problem solve.

“We have specific classes around storytelling with data and how you convince your audience to understand what the data is,” David says. “Your audience has to trust the data, and only then can you use it for real decision-making.”

Data can be a powerful tool for identifying larger trends and making informed decisions when it’s clearly understood and communicated. It’s also vital for performance monitoring and optimization.

How Is Problem Solving Prioritized in Purdue’s Online MBA?

The courses in the Purdue Online MBA program teach problem-solving methods to students, keeping them up to date with the latest techniques and allowing them to apply their knowledge to business-related scenarios.

“I can give you a model or a tool, but most of the time, a real-world situation is going to be a lot messier and more valuable than what we’ve seen in a textbook,” David says. “Asking students to take what they know and apply it to a case where there’s not one single correct answer is a big part of the learning experience.”

Make Your Own Decision to Further Your Career

An online MBA from Purdue University can help advance your career by teaching you problem-solving skills, decision-making strategies and more. Reach out today to learn more about earning an online MBA with Purdue University .

If you would like to receive more information about pursuing a business master’s at the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, please fill out the form and a program specialist will be in touch!

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Danaher: Implementing DBS in the Sales Process

Former president at danaher, inpractise.com/articles/ danaher-implementing-dbs-in-the-sales-process.

The exec worked at Danaher for 10+ years and was responsible for leading 5 different acquisitions at Hach and Pall.

Interview Transcript

This is a snippet of the transcript, sign up to read more.

Could you explain what visual management looks like when implemented?

Visual management usually involves a whiteboard where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are tracked daily. The concept is that daily management is the first tool you work with. It's about tracking your daily performance indicators and making almost immediate adjustments. For instance, if yesterday's sales goal was 11 units and only 10 were sold, the idea is to plan to sell 12 units the following day to make up for the shortfall. DBS is about managing daily indicators, whether it's production, sales, margin, or collections, and more importantly, having a culture and training to address these issues before they escalate. It's a method of correcting day-to-day performance in real-time.

Related Content

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Danaher Business System: Batch to One Piece Flow Manufacturing

Former vp, operations at danaher, danaher business system: hach sales team case study, former vp at danaher, the danaher business system mindset, former director at danaher corporation, danaher, beckman coulter, & the dbs machine, former laboratory automation sales manager, beckman coulter, danaher, copyright notice.

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