Going MAD Successfully

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Perhaps the first step in any successful venture is to get mad. Howard Beale will live forever in movie history by urging America to throw up its windows and yell “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Yet where Howard was crazy, the idea connects because of the grain of truth in it. True to its name, Linear is taking that thinking a few steps further into the realm of the beneficial with its new vision, informally known as “Get MAD 2018.”


After months of study and consultation among company leadership and outside experts, Linear founder and CEO John Tenbusch recently addressed the company on the particulars of the new program. Perhaps self-definition is a better term. “There is a huge opportunity in front of us, and it means we need the ideas and input of everyone,” he said.

MAD stands for Make a Difference and 2018 refers to the bold prediction that the company will potentially triple in growth by that date, both in sales and in headcount. Where manufacturing in general and manufacturing employment in particular continues to consolidate, “This is definitely not about trying to grab a larger piece of a shrinking pie,” Tenbusch insists. “In fact, we are projecting significant growth. Growth means change, and change means pain. We want to have a program in place that informs, inspires, and empowers the entire Linear team into channeling that energy into something positive.”

This became the basis of the thinking behind Get MAD 2018, he adds. Linear has determined its core competency is to make a difference. And before you can make a difference, you have to know the difference. As our tracking system helps us write down inventory, we continue to need input on turning the mountains of data we have into information, he says. The result is the formation of employee-led MAD teams to tackle grass-roots projects on defining and obtaining process and cost savings, and MAD forms and boxes throughout the company to get the process started.

Current Linear team members are at the center of the Make a Difference effort. With expectations in place to potentially triple Linear’s headcount in the next 36 months, the opportunity to “mentor and move up” in Tenbusch’s words, is immediate. “Getting MAD means partnering with universities and local community colleges to make a path for our future workforce,” he says. “It also means continuing to make a difference in manufacturing by capitalizing on our innovation.”

Linear’s leadership in additive manufacturing and how it can optimize traditional manufacturing is reaching global manufacturing leaders in aerospace, energy, general engineering, and many others. Outside customer quality teams continue to give Linear high marks for process knowledge and innovation, which in turn is driving attention from the investment community, which summarily drives the Make a Difference effort. Like the classic waterfall theory of systems development, the outbound vision of a market-leading company in three years cascades into system requirements and program design using the best of internal and external resources.

There are bricks-and-mortar commitments as well. Linear is currently undergoing a significant expansion for additional 3D metal printing and CNC machining equipment. “Change may be painful, but there’s a bigger picture in place,” Tenbusch told his employees. “We need to grab the idea of being a market leader and go for it. This is a great place to be, and you’re part of the plan.”


Linear is a singular company channeling additive and subtractive manufacturing into a production platform unlike any other. There’s much more to follow.

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