Robert Thinkoll’s Unique Lean-Thinking Leadership

Robert Thinkoll is the Vice President of Global Operational Excellence for Ingersoll Rand. Ingersoll Rand is an Irish global manufacturing company that has been in business since 1905 and is headquartered in Davidson, North Carolina. However, it got its true start in 1871 as a mining drill company named Ingersoll Rock Drill Company in New York. They added diesel engines to their line of products in the 1920’s.

Thinkoll holds dual Bachelor’s degree in Japanese and Political Science. He also holds a minor in Asian Studies. He earned it from Arizona State University.

As Vice President, Robert Thinkoll oversees the company’s transition into means that are leaner. He meets with Ingersoll Rand’s senior leaders and presidents of the strategic units in order to identify and execute ways to expand the company’s profit margin. In 2000-2015, Thinkoll used his leadership to increase responsibilities with Danahar to increase Beckman Life Science Center’s global operations in Indianapolis, Indiana. For this, he won numerous accolades for superb performances.

When asked where he puts his main day-to-day focus, Thinkoll states that he tries to make it all about the people in the businesses. He tries to make it so that all of the companies that Ingersoll works with know how to be leaders in lean problem-solving. His standard of staying lean is staying focused on the creation and process of work. He also says that when this is abandoned, it very quickly turns into a slippery slope and that business leaders all too often make the mistake of jumping into lean methods for their own sake. Lean business thinking should be about focusing on realistic results.

When working on a global business, Thinkoll implies that what to do and what not to do in business is an ongoing process. This is because not only is every situation different but you’re also working across cultures. However, he says that there are some principles that are more or less universal, such as making it okay to push the current boundaries of what is currently accepted as the norm and leading by example. Leaving room for success by trial and error is also essential.