The Dirt Podcast: Pulling back the Curtain on Product Development

Dan Henderson has a reputation for being a positive person. 

So much so that someone once told him he could find something positive about a train wreck. 

“I think it’s far better to be positive outwardly and inwardly to help set the stage for being successful in the future,” Dan says. 

Dan’s not only earned the nickname “Happy Henderson,” but also leads a global team of innovators as Caterpillar’s Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology. 

In this edition of The Dirt, Dan dishes on his engineering background and the company’s technology strategy, and gives us a behind-the-scenes look at product development at Caterpillar. 

Show highlights are listed in the program guide below. 

Get the latest episodes of The Dirt delivered to you by subscribing on your favorite podcast app –SoundCloud, iTunes or Google Play

 

Program Guide

1:25 – The story of how Dan’s family has been part of Caterpillar for 81 years

2:05 – How the connection to Caterpillar influenced his decision to become an engineer

2:55 – The impact that Dan’s uncle and former Caterpillar president Bob Gilmore had on him: “It’s been very meaningful to me.”

4:00 – Dan’s career progression from an engineer to leading a global team of innovators 

6:50 – Dan on his first management opportunity: “I told him yes, but in my heart I was like, ‘No, I love engineering – I’m not ready for that.’”

7:50 – How having an engineering background helps Dan lead 

9:20 – “Spending time with the product, spending time with the customer helps you understand how their businesses really work.” 

11:00 – How Dan got the nickname “Happy Henderson”

13:00 – On leadership: “There is no impact without contact.”

15:00 – One of Dan’s hobbies outside of work: “I like to do things like split firewood by hand.”

16:30 – Dan’s priorities since taking on his new role 

17:40 – “Collaboration and speed in product development are two of the most important things that we need to continue to maximize in order to keep up with the accelerating pace of the future.”

20:00 – How competitors push the speed of product development 

21:55 – Explaining the importance of Caterpillar’s Technology Strategy

24:10 – Dan shares some product development “secrets” 

28:50 – Utilizing partners to help develop products and solutions 

32:40 – On the future of Caterpillar’s product development

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