Anthony Young is a talent management specialist who helps lead our new employee orientations.
I joined Intuitive because we strive for innovation in everything we do—and because we invite everyone, regardless of background, to be part of moving us forward. I feel lucky that part of my role as a talent management specialist is welcoming new voices into the conversation. I get to help educate new hires about Intuitive’s history, mission, and culture—and I’m excited about the chance to give people a sneak peek.
The work Intuitive does is incredible, and it’s been exciting to make a positive impact on our employees, and by extension, the lives of the physicians—our primary customer and those who heal patients all over the world. Here are four inspiring aspects of Intuitive I share with every person we hire:
Intuitive Has a Fascinating History—and a Promising Future
Intuitive was founded in 1995, but our history actually starts before that—with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). In the early ’90s, SRI was approached by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development program for the United States Department of Defense trying to come up with ideas of how we treat wounded soldiers in the battlefield faster without putting medical staff in harm’s way.
DARPA was trying to design telepresence surgery—a type of remote, robotic-assisted surgery that would allow surgeons to operate from a distance. But ultimately, the technology wasn’t advanced enough and there were too many risks involved. A group of people at SRI and other organizations across the country identified opportunities to use this technology for commercial purposes, such as laparoscopic procedures.
The technology they were building seemed to have a natural fit helping increase a surgeon’s natural precision. Plus, the endoscope technology that was being built at the same time, along with the telepresence technology being tested, could help support better outcomes for patients in the minimally invasive space. That’s really where our story begins.
Leasing that technology from SRI, our founders formed Intuitive in 1995. Between 1995 and 1999, they built the first da Vinci surgical system. When it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance in 2000, we were off and running. We saw multiple generations of da Vinci systems come after that, with our fourth and current generation coming out in 2014.
Historically we were focused on urology and gynecology, but now, with our newest technology, we have moved into general surgery. This has allowed us to transition into other clinical procedures, including colorectal and thoracic.
Intuitive Prioritizes Individual Expectations
I was awed on my first day when I learned about our individual expectations, which are operating principles that each of us are personally accountable for. And two of these expectations are especially meaningful to me.
One expectation is reality. For me, as I’m creating and pitching ideas or looking to solve problems, that means I spend a lot of time describing the situation and environment as it is, not as I would like it to be. And that’s what we try to do here. At Intuitive, we’re aware of and acknowledge our biases, which helps us provide a more objective understanding of the facts. We’re not going to remove emotion from a situation, because that’s impossible. Of course we value how people feel—but we’re going to accept reality as it is, and plan from there.
Another individual expectation is leadership: We want employees to feel like they can speak up and advocate for themselves—the best idea can come from anyone, not only from your manager or senior leadership. Ideas can come from a new hire who just started on Tuesday, or from the intern who’s been here for a month. We don’t want anyone to be a bystander; everyone should lead in their own way and be a part of the larger conversation.
Intuitive Maintains a Patient-First Mentality
At Intuitive, everything we do is in service of improving patient outcomes. We are all ultimately trying to get to something that’s bigger than any one individual can achieve. Intuitive does a great job of recognizing the contributions of our employees, and how they are making a difference.
I know from how I was raised—from volunteering with Boy Scouts as a kid or going to my mom’s local community events—that I don’t have to be the person who directly cares for the patient to provide value. Even if you aren’t directly touching a product or talking to customers, you are still supporting them. It’s up to all of us to create better outcomes by innovating to a new level and advancing our mission. We’re striving for patients to have a better experience because of the work we’ve done.
And those patients can be our co-workers and families, even ourselves. I know colleagues who have had procedures done via da Vinci, and nearly every week, a new hire shares a story of how a loved one was positively impacted by our technology in the operating room or diagnostic space. This closeness of impact motivates me and every employee to do our best every day.
Intuitive Values Inclusion and Diversity
Inclusion and diversity (I&D) at Intuitive fundamentally means that everyone here should feel like they belong and are supported. But we also want to be aware of the why behind this idea: Why is it important for everyone to feel this way, and what does it mean for our work?
I think it goes back to one of our values about how we respect others and champion the power of diversity because it allows us to be better innovators, better people, and creates greater good. I&D leads amazing programming across Intuitive, including through our employee resource groups (ERGs), which provide opportunities for traditionally marginalized communities and their allies to meet and connect. Our I&D mission is also an extension of another of our individual expectations: dignity. Every person deserves respect, and to be heard.