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J. Robert “Bob” Carleton, 2/1/1945 – 4/28/2019. Bob fought almost a three-year battle with cancer and endured chemo, radiation and hormonal therapies with his predictable sense of humor. His inevitable death was much sooner than all expected when he was visiting his daughter and grandchildren on Vancouver Island, BC, where coincidentally, Vector Group, Inc. successfully carried out its last project in a cultural assessment of a 2500-employee and 500-physician hospital about a year ago.
Bob was the only remaining Founding Partner and the CEO of Vector Group, Inc. He was an internationally recognized authority in organizational performance and effectiveness with a career spanning almost 50 years.
His affiliation with ISPI or NSPI, as it was known then, began in 1972. Founding Vector Group Partners Bob Carleton and Claude S. “Butch” Lineberry met for the first time at the NSPI Conference in New Orleans. This was Bob’s first conference and Claude’s fourth or fifth. Many notables in the fields of performance and instruction met, worked together and started businesses together.
In 1978 Bob and William Daniels were founding partners of Operants, Inc. Claude Lineberry worked with Joe Harless at The Performance Guild. Joe Harless pioneered “front-end analysis.”
Bob was a Past President and founding director of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI®) in 1977 which grew out of the Joint Certification Task Force. Butch served as the national President of ISPI in 1981. Bob also served on the ASTD Professional Standards Task Force and was a member of the Board of Electors for the HRD Hall of Fame.
In 1983 the work began at British Airways (BA) for its transformation from “Bloody Awful” to “The World’s Favourite Airline.” Bob always told the story that he was “one of twelve prima donna consultants hired by the airline including Bob, Claude, several of Vector Group’s earlier principals along with Warner Burke, George Litwin and others of notoriety in the field of performance. In 1985 several of these independent consultants met at an English pub to discuss the possibility of forming a new company and working together. They formed Vanguard Consulting Group, Inc. with Bob, Butch, Stephanie Jackson, Bob Powers, et al, as partners with offices in Denver, San Francisco and London, UK. Vanguard Consulting Group was an ISPI Patron Member for several years.
As a true systems thinker, he identified complex organizational problems and created innovative solutions while aligning strategy, infrastructure and culture. He was particularly skilled in building executive teams and achieving enterprise-wide success. His integrity was impeccable and other leaders in the field of organizational and human performance recognized his expertise. He was a member of the Tucson-7 and later with the Whak-a-Mole think tank groups. Stories abound.
His lengthy achievements included turning around under-performing organizations bringing them to the top of their respective industries including GM, Honeywell-Bull, Prudential Assurance, British Airways and Square D Company. He was expert in organizational analysis and design, leadership and executive team development.
He was highly sought after and invited to international conferences and symposiums. He was a twice invited Master’s Series speaker for ISPI’s international conferences. Bob and Gary W. Craig, Managing Partner and COO for Vector Group, Inc., presented on Cultural Due Diligence and Post-Merger/Post-Acquisition Cultural Integration at the Alliance for Mergers & Acquisitions Advisers (AM&AA) conferences twice in the last two years.
Bob was a global thought leader and pioneer in the emerging field of Cultural Due Diligence (CDD) in mergers and acquisitions. He created the concept and published the first article, “Cultural Due Diligence” in Training Magazine in 1997. He and Claude Lineberry authored Achieving Post-Merger Success: A Stakeholders Guide to Cultural Due Diligence, Assessment and Integration (2004), Organizational Culture Change and Analysis of Corporate Culture for the Handbook of Human Performance Technology (1992 & 1999). HRD Press published his book, Implementation and Management of Performance Improvement Plans: Emphasizing Group and Organizational Interventions, in 2010.
Bob was a prolific writer and published thought-provoking articles in The Wall Street Journal, Due Diligence Law and Practice (UK), Chief Executive Officer, and contributed to ISPI’s Performance Improvement Journal including:
The International Society for Performance Improvement honored Bob with the prestigious Geary Rummler Award for the Advancement of Performance Improvement during THE Performance Improvement Conference in Toronto (2012).
Colleagues describe Bob as “a man with no ego” who willingly shares his gifts with others.
Goodbye, Bob. You are missed by more than you would ever believe.