• John Koivukangas

Notes from the Creative Director - Lessons from Medtronic (1969)

Päivitetty: maalis 2

Earl Bakken 1924-2018 lessons


Earl Bakken 1924-2018 lessons

In Minneapolis, I grew up with people like Earl Bakken and his coworker, heart surgeon C. Walton Lillehei. I met Dr. Lillehei in his lab in a high school outing in 1969. I never met Earl Bakken but listened to many of his stories and talks on the radio, of how he and others started Medtronic and the no-nonsense approach in the early decades, including bootstrapping. I knew people he had approached with his story of the heart pacemaker he had invented.

Bakken Pacemaker

My personal mentor was also another early Medtronic leader, engineer and corporate vice-president Lawrence “Larry” Shearon (1936-2013), member of the renowned Medtronic Society (upper row, right) and of the executive board of Onesys Oy, whose products Birkmann Clinic implements in clinical workflows.

I once asked him how to tell my story of surgical navigation - how I wanted this technology in the hands of all doctors not only surgeons. He said: “Just tell it like Earl (Bakken). Only liars need good memories!"


We benchmark Medtronic and medtech lessons for founders on grit, in Finnish “sisu” and “sitko”. Bakken called it the “Medtronic Mission”, nicely shown in the statue outside of headquarters. I actually implanted pacemakers in my surgical rotation.


So, hats off to meaningful lives!

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