On A Mission

"I think our success can be directly traced to our passion for the Medtronic mission, which can be summarized as restoring people to full life and health," says CEO Bill George.

Originally crafted in the early 1960s when such ideas were not in vogue, company founder Earl Bakken wrote six statements that define Medtronic values. Even under continuing review, the mission has remained unchanged since its original draft. "While everything around us changes, and we will change our tactics to meet customer needs, these are the values, this is what we are all about," says COO Art Collins. "Its fundamental."

The legacy of Bakken is still palpable at Medtronic, from his statue at corporate headquarters and the mission carved in stone surrounding its base, to the medallion ceremony he initiated to impress upon all new employees what it meant to work at Medtronic. At similar medallion ceremonies carried on today by George and Collins, new employees receive bronze medallions in a presentation that explains company values, their shared purpose, and the importance of each individuals contribution. "Its a form of initiation ritual," says Collins, "and is an important part of our culture here. It transcends product lines, geography, race, and culture. Recently we did the ceremony in Switzerland and in China."

"I refer to the mission statement all the time," says George. "Theres a very perceptive statement in there: We will direct our growth where we have maximum strength and ability and will avoid participating in areas where we cannot make unique and worthy contributions. We use that a lot in our decision-making around here. I think it has kept us from making some significant mistakes and venturing into areas where we had no knowledge."

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