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About Robin Lawton


What to Expect

Robin Lawton helps you make dramatic improvement in customer focus, satisfaction, and leadership excellence. His content-rich keynotes and seminars combine the unique strengths of a top 21st century thought-leader, stand-up comedian, game show host, current events analyst, and story-teller. His presentations integrate audience participation, music, video, and current events.  The result is a highly inspiring, personally relevant, and insight-producing experience you won’t forget and will feel compelled to act on.  His structured and practical C3 tools enable you to do so, as those using his strategic planning roadmap and project deployment system will attest.

Rob was ranked #1 of 103 speakers by participants at the 2017 ASQ World Conference.   He is masterful at using humor and a highly interactive delivery style to communicate and demonstrate how his paradigm-busting system achieves leadership excellence.  He illustrates how strong customer focus can be easily and powerfully injected into everything from strategic direction to daily work, creating outstanding results.  Clients have won personal recognition and prestigious awards such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Award as a direct result of applying his C3 methods.

Rob’s phenomenal way of interacting with his audience inspires, motivates, educates and equips participants to do what they never thought possible.  Rob’s memorable true stories, passion, and practicality touch his audiences intellectually, emotionally, and genuinely. Perhaps that is why he has been ranked #1 speaker by many national and international organizations at virtually every multi-speaker event where he presents.

Rob’s keynotes and programs are based on his unique customer-centered culture (C3) principles, customized to each audience.  His topics address leadership, excellence, customer experience, innovation & growth, voice of the customer, engaging employees, and strategic project management for high ROI.  A few of his keynote titles:

  • Mastering 8 Dimensions of Excellence (to align strategy, possibility and daily work)
  • Heart, Mind and Voice of the Customer (uncover, understand and satisfy what customers want)
  • Strategy and Tools for Transformation Leaders
  • Simplicity and Speed
  • Eliminate “Stuff That Sucks
  • Make Customers Winners
  • The Magic Wand to Engage Employees and Satisfy Customers
  • Preventing Knowledge Loss When Talent Leaves
  • Strategic Projects That Transform
  • Inject Customer Experience Into Everything (e.g., Lean Six Sigma, ISO 9001 and existing initiatives)

Rob has strengthened the success of a number of industry leaders in his teaching role as:

  • Principal Total Customer Satisfaction leader, Motorola Management Institute (10 years)
  • Master Blackbelt Forum Keynote Speaker/Coach, Raytheon Six Sigma Institute (5 years)
  • VOC Expert, Honeywell/ AlliedSignal Management Learning and Development (5 years)
  • Conscience of the Customer, Accura Division, American Honda (2 years)
  • Strategic Advisor to the Governors’ Cabinets in Alaska, Missouri, Minnesota, Wyoming

What Customer’s Say

  • “I was one of the few people in the world to study under, and spend personal time with Dr. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker, Joseph Juran, Philip Crosby, Russell Ackoff, Tom Peters and Michael Hammer.  In comparison to those giants of the past, Robin Lawton is clearly … today’s premier thinker and practitioner of quality as defined by customer satisfaction. He causes revolutionary new managerial thinking and decision-making.”  Bruce E. Laviolette, Ph.D., Director of Management Systems, Naval Air Systems Command
  • “I have never experienced a program with a higher return on investment of time and money.  This is also the most clear and direct method of leadership improvement and quality management I have found.” Quentin Wilson, Director, Department of Revenue, Winner, 2000 Missouri State Level Baldrige Award (1st state agency in the country)
  • “This created excitement about ‘what’s possible’ and gave the leadership a new way to evaluate the work they do.”  John Powers, Director, Eastman Kodak
  •  “This program articulates the absolutely critical message for health professionals that places the customer at the center of attention. As the health system evolves, it is easy to lose track of who the real customer is. As a doctor, I was awash in new ideas about how I, individually, and the health systems I am in, could improve practice.” Eric Schned, M.D., Park Nicollet Clinic
  • “I can assure you I will think, act, work and do things differently as a result of this session! Your ‘real life’ examples were excellent. Robin Lawton’s enthusiasm is very contagious. I actually got energized by his energy! I found Rob’s personal examples striking both intellectually as well as psychologically. Thanks!”  Michael Fedock, Management School, University of St. Thomas
  • “Excellent! [You] challenged me to make a mind shift to apply the customer-centered thinking in my work.  The emphasis on creative divergent thinking may be the key to our success in the next 10 years.”   Steve McAlexander, Assistant Vice President, American Honda Motor Company
  • “Robin Lawton did a fantastic job. He is very charismatic and has great stories that really drive home the message. He has a great system and it contains so many key elements of Strategic Development, Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, Change Management, etc.  I really appreciated the opportunity to be exposed to his material. Very enjoyable.”   Tori Lain, Business Analyst, Mercury Marine

Robin Lawton’s Background in Brief

Not many business leaders and world-class speakers will tell you how much time they’ve spent in prison.  Rob is proud to admit that’s where his career began.  Everything he knows about leadership, excellence, change, personal transformation and innovative thinking started taking shape during his time in the U.S.’s largest walled prison, in its psychiatric ward. If you think your challenges are tough, think about what he witnessed. The fact he was employed there as an administrator is, perhaps, beside the point.  The reason he was there was to make a difference.  He did, and saw many examples of success in the harshest context.

The seeds of Rob’s unconventional thinking were planted even earlier, with his cross-cultural life outside the U.S. and many international experiences while growing up.  He has held a wide variety of positions, including:

  • Oil well laborer
  • Night club entertainer
  • Teacher of English as a second language
  • Educational program evaluation researcher
  • Sales trainer for super-computer applications
  • Head of quality and productivity initiatives at a major computer firm
  • Adjunct faculty at University of Minnesota and Metropolitan University
  • Board member and Strategic Planning Chair, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota

These life experiences have led to Rob’s unique ability to develop, articulate, and execute alternatives to complex organizational and competitive challenges, making the solutions feel suspiciously like common sense.  He has developed and deployed powerful but easy-to-understand principles, strategies and tools to improve and measure knowledge work and customer satisfaction.  His passion and bias for dramatic and sustainable results inspires others to surpass their goals. Rob has been credited with providing his powerful methodology to many organizations.  His guidance enabled them to win international, national and regional awards for enterprises in high technology, finance, healthcare, education, government, transportation, and utilities.  Awards were from organizations including:

  • Baldrige National Award
  • California Council for Performance Excellence
  • Missouri Governor’s Office
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Maryland Council for Performance Excellence
  • U.S. Department of Defense

Rob is considered an international expert in creating rapid strategic alignment between enterprise objectives and customer priorities.  Many of his articles and ideas are available on his website and on Google.  He is overjoyed that fans see him not just as a pretty face, but as a 21st century guru.


His world-class U.S. and international clients have included organizations such as: 3M, Ford Motor Company, Motorola, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, General Electric, Myriad Genetics, Amanah Raya Berhad, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Naval Air Systems Command, American Express, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, Nike, American Honda, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Owens Corning, AT&T, Honeywell, Petrobras, Blessing Hospital, Imperial Oil Resources, Raytheon, BlueCross and BlueShield, Intel, RHB Bank, California State University, John Deere, Siemens, Caterpillar, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NCR, Southern Alberta Technical Institute, City of Calgary, Mayo Clinic, Tecom Investments/Dubai, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Mercury Marine, U.S. government agencies from Alaska to Vermont, Eastman Kodak, Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), University of Vermont, Ericsson, Microsoft, Washington Mutual, Federal Emergency Management (FEMA), Missouri Department of Revenue and Wolters Kluwer Health Pharma Solutions.

Academic Notes

Robin Lawton’s academic background emphasized sociology, psychology, linguistics and statistics. He earned his M.A. at Michigan State University. Mr. Lawton coined the term “customer-centered culture” (C3) with his 1993 best-selling book, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and Speed (5-star rated on Amazon).  His fourth and latest book expands on his ideas with Mastering Excellence: A Leader’s Guide to Aligning Strategy, Culture, Customer Experience and Measures of Success (2017). His work has been published in the U.K., Brazil, China and been referenced in many publications elsewhere. Though some who love the status quo would undoubtedly like his radical, enlightening and empowering ideas suppressed, his thoughts have still managed to appear in books by other authors on subjects such as:

  • Change management
  • Culture change
  • Customer experience
  • High performance in government
  • Innovation and product design
  • Leadership
  • Lean enterprise
  • Measuring knowledge work, enterprise performance and customer satisfaction•
  • Performance improvement and teamwork
  • Quality management systems
  • Six Sigma
  • Strategy and vision
  • Supply Management

Leadership, Awards and Recognition

Robin Lawton has been named Guru by American Society for Quality, is listed in Who’s Who in Business Leaders, and been ranked “Best Speaker” by many sponsoring organizations, including:

Other Honors

  • Had two teams qualify as finalists in international team competition co-sponsored by American Society for Quality and Association for Quality and Participation
  • Credited by the Missouri Governor’s Office with enabling the Department of Revenue with jumping from a national performance rank of 25 to be in the top 5 within two years.
  • Named “Quality Guru” by Quality Progress journal.
Robin Lawton

Robin Lawton

Leadership Strategist