“Dr. Emiliani is an unusual academic in the following way. He worked for 15 years in management and technical areas in industry before leaving industry for the academic world AND he has excellent scholarly skills. Most people are successful at one or the other but not both. Bob was successful in industry and had the opportunity to be at the center of a serious effort to implement the Toyota Production System in a unique environment – that of defense contracting and large customized products namely aircraft engines. Among other things he was taught the state of the art in Lean directly by Shingijutsu, the premier consulting firm of former Toyota managers.”
– Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way.
“Bob is the embodiment of the consummate professional who displays quiet confidence and demonstrates integrity at all times. He is secure in his own abilities and always looking to improve, himself, situations, and helping others who are interested in doing the same. I had the privilege of working with Bob when we were both first learning from the Shingijutsu Company. If you have the opportunity to talk with or work with Bob, take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with him, as opportunities like that do not present themselves very often in life.”
– Joe Muraca, Senior Corporate Manager, Global Supply Chain, Canberra Industries
Creative and Original Thinker
- Originated the study of Lean leadership
- 25 years of research in leadership
- 15 years of industry work experience plus 20 years of academic experience
- Experienced engineering, operations, and supply chain leader
- Hands-on leadership practice in manufacturing and service organizations
- Creator of Speed Leadership
- Author or co-author of 22 books and 45 papers
- Numerous new contributions to the body of leadership knowledge
- 18 years of executive training and corporate speaking experience
- Creator of the Lean Teaching pedagogy in higher education
Professor M.L. “Bob” Emiliani is an engineer, researcher, author, historian of progressive management, educational reformer, and executive coach. He is a long-time TPS/Lean practitioner and was the first to focus on Lean leadership as an area of scholarly study. Prior joining academia, Dr. Emiliani worked in industry for 15 years and had management responsibility in engineering (R&D, new product development) and operations (manufacturing and supply chain). He had responsibility for implementing TPS in his manufacturing ($5M) and purchasing ($110M) business units at Pratt & Whitney. He also created the Lean Teaching pedagogy (personalized learning) as a professor in higher education.
Dr. Emiliani is a versatile author whose work spans three disciplines: engineering, social sciences, and humanities. He has authored or co-authored 45 peer-reviewed papers in six different subject areas (leadership, management, management history, supply chain management, higher education, and materials engineering) and is the author or co-author of 22 books. Dr. Emiliani earned a Ph.D. in Engineering from Brown University, an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island, and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Miami.
Click here to view Bob's resume.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are questions and answers that will help you understand who I am and what I do. Please contact me if you would like to know more.
What is your focus?
It includes progressive (Lean) leadership and its antithesis, status quo (classical) leadership -- and associated management thinking and practices. Knowledge of these give me unique insights into what can work and what will not work with respect to change and improvement. I also have deep knowledge management history, social sciences, and Lean as applied to higher education. In addition, my 15 years working in industry gave me great familiarity with engineering, operations, and supply chain management. Click here to read feedback from colleagues and customers.
Why Lean leadership?
I was the first researcher to focus exclusively on Lean leadership. I picked that topic because so little was known about it in the mid-1990s. Lean leadership was widely seen as a mysterious art that few could master. I wanted to change that through my own practice and by conducting research focused on important questions such as: How do you lead a Lean transformation? Why are some companies successful while others are not? Why is Lean management so difficult to sustain? These were tough, challenging problems to study, but which now have mostly been answered.
Is your research practical or theoretical?
My research is practical. I am not a career academic and I do not focus on theory. I come from industry and have a hands-on practitioner background. As a result, I always make sure that my research is useful to practitioners. All of my books and research papers are practical in their orientation.
What is the relevance of your research on Lean leadership?
As a result of my research, we now clearly know what works and what does not work with respect to Lean leadership and how to lead a Lean transformation. We also have a detailed understanding why Lean transformations struggle or fail. But more than that, this foundation leads to a generalized description of progressive management without the formalizations associated with Lean.
Why don't more leaders practice Lean management?
Leaders want to improve but they may not want Lean. What then?
For them there is Speed Leadership. A wonderful new way to understand and practice leadership.
Why have you written so many books?
I write books to share everything that I have learned to help others learn and improve. That is one of the things that professors do. Books are a practical, low-cost, and effective way others to learn -- and then they hopefully put what they learned into practice. I've been called a "one-man think tank."
Who pays for your research?
My work is self-funded through book sales and related services. All research is conducted as free and independent works, and I have no conflicts of interest.
Are you a consultant?
No. I am a teacher. A teacher helps people acquire knowledge that they can put into practice. Teaching is one of the "helping professions." A consultant is a different type of professional, one who provides "expert advice" on a particular subject -- deeper levels of knowledge than their client has, but (typically) not as deep a level of knowledge as what professors have. Consultants have industry experience but usually have no teaching experience. I have both management experience in industry and full-time teaching (and research) experience -- which is a rare combination for professors (a.k.a. "pracademics") or for consultants. Professors conduct research that is formally vetted through the peer-review process. Consultants may do research, but in most cases it is not subjected to the peer-review process.
Who trained you in Lean management?
Consultants from the world-famous Shingijutsu Co., Ltd, between 1994 and 1997 and periodically thereafter. Through hands-on training and coaching, I learned that Lean efforts must produce financial and non-financial business results. I have never been a "Lean tools" or a "manufacturing guy." From the beginning, my interest has always been the human side of Lean management. My genba is leader's minds.
How long have you been studying Lean?
My first exposure to TPS was in 1992 or 1993, when I read Masaaki Imai’s book Kaizen. I gained hands-on experience starting in the summer of 1994 and in the years thereafter. I continue to be a Lean practitioner today, which helps inform my research and university teaching work.