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Samuel Gould takes lean from process to people
By Lynn Shelton
March 2018

Lynn Shelton, vice president of marketing, Enterprise Minnesota
(Lynn Shelton,vice president of marketing, Enterprise Minnesota)

Samuel Gould, one of our business growth experts at Enterprise Minnesota, has the gift of explaining things in ways that are relevant, interesting and usually dang funny. He recently began a conversation about Lean 2.0 with an allusion to Egyptian pottery. 

If I may paraphrase: The potter takes the clay and makes the vase, puts it in an oven, and fires it. It comes out cracked, maybe there were problems with raw materials, or everything didn’t heat evenly. Some artisans might look at the crack, put a little beeswax in it and cover it with a beautiful painted mural. They take it to a shop where it fetches a premium price. The happy consumer takes it home and puts it on the mantle; nobody’s the wiser. What happens when she takes it down, fills it with hot water, and it starts to leak? 

So here’s the question: When did the crack occur?

To Sam, the whole chain has plausible deniability. When the consumer tries to return it, the shopkeeper asks, “How long have you had it? You’re just returning it now?” The shopkeeper takes it to the artist, who says, “What do you mean? You probably set it down too hard on a shelf in your own shop. There’s plausible deniability, but there’s no integrity, is there? Integrity once lost is hard to recover, so our brand has to be filled to the brim with integrity, right?

Integrity is a concept he associates with Lean 2.0. Lean 1.0, he says focuses on process: identifying and eliminating waste, improving the manufacturing process, meeting customer demands. Five or ten years ago it emphasized inventory reduction, according to Sam, because inventory was a big impediment. But most companies have addressed that issue. Manufacturers embrace lean concepts to find not only better profitability but better customer relations. They integrate the concept of lean and reinforce it with Value Stream Mapping, 5S, and Kaizen events, but remember that the process never ends.

Sam is currently using a series of workshops to introduce manufacturers to the next iteration of lean. It is about people, and focuses on concepts like simplicity, flow, visibility, partnerships, integrity, and true value. 

He acknowledges that this is a sea-change in focus, but worth the attention.

I highly recommend his presentation. He’s also writing an article on Lean 2.0 for the next edition of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.

Sam has one master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and another in management technology from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Prior to joining Enterprise Minnesota, Sam served as a process development engineer for Union Carbide, as director of engineering and manufacturing at Mallinckrodt, Inc., as a senior technical manager for Lockheed Martin, as a plant manager at Tyco Healthcare (now Covidien), and as a senior engineering manager for Nellcor Puritan Bennett. Sam also spent over ten years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN utilizing lean development and six sigma practices. 

Sam lives in Bemidji, where he helped establish the engineering programs at Bemidji State University and he has served as an adjunct professor. He is involved with the Ingenuity Frontier, an organization dedicated to developing and promoting Northwest Minnesota’s engineering and manufacturing strength. 

It’s a safe bet that you’ll love Sam.

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The State of Manufacturing®. This spring we’ll produce the 10th anniversary of our State of Manufacturing survey of Minnesota’s manufacturing executives. We’re proud to say that this has become a go-to event for manufacturers, community leaders, educators and policymakers. If our pollster calls you, please take his call!

We’re planning 15 focus groups this year between March 12-29. For more details please visit

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