Burke Robinson



Summary of Expertise

Works with the top management team and board of directors of leading companies to help them make complex decisions about strategy and change in their organizations. Leads executive seminars and retreats to develop strategic agendas, identify vision and issues, create new alternatives, evaluate uncertain consequences, make clear decisions, and implement action plans. At Stanford University, teaches courses on decision making, advises PhD students on dissertation research, and mentors students on career and entrepreneurial decisions.

Burke Robinson, LLC February 1999 to present

CEO Palo Alto, CA

Advises, coaches, and assists senior executives as they make key decisions that shape their organization’s future, including crisis decisions, major investment decisions, enterprise strategy, and portfolio strategy. Conducts strategy seminars and workshops, training and development programs, and executive retreats. Provides practical, normative approaches for the creative development and critical analysis of key strategic decisions. Has taught four-day courses on decision and risk analysis for EMBA programs in China at Jinan University and Anhui University, two-day courses on decision quality in China for the New Entrepreneurs Development Program, half-day executive briefings to groups visiting Stanford, and strategy retreats for public and private companies around the world.

Stanford University April 1999 to present

Lecturer Stanford, CA

Sustainability Science and Practice, School of Sustainability March 2018 to present

Management Science & Engineering , School of Engineering April 1999 to August 2020

Teaches pragmatic courses that present common-sense rules and decision-making tools to achieve clarity of action for important decisions – from personal choices to organizational decisions about business strategies and public policies. Art and science combine in the essential focus, discipline, and passion needed to make high-quality decisions, and thereby increase the probability of desired outcomes. Lectures cover effective normative approaches and efficient management processes for analyzing complex decisions as well as implementing them in the face of an uncertain future world. In an experiential learning environment, students develop their skills using state-of-the art methods and techniques for critically analyzing some of the actual decisions being made in a variety of private and public, business, nonprofit, and government organizations. Advises PhD students on dissertation topics and research, mentors students from various backgrounds on career and entrepreneurial decisions, and helps recruit scholar-athletes for Stanford's varsity athletic programs.

Institute for the Future February 2003 to October 2003

Director, Business Horizons Program Menlo Park, CA

Directed a multi-disciplinary research and consulting program to develop forecasts about alternative future scenarios, and to draw insights about strategic decisions that deliver value in those scenarios. Redesigned the signature product, the Ten-Year Forecast, as a trilogy of reports: words to define future risks and opportunities, numbers to portray data and trends, and images to capture conceptual maps and vital visual information. Facilitated conferences and workshops. Managed customized research and consulting engagements.

Strategic Decisions Group August 1981 to February 1999

Director and Partner Menlo Park, CA

Helped global Fortune 500 clients create and realize value in five key areas:

1. Strategic Leadership — developed corporate portfolio and business unit strategies; provided advice and guidance on global expansion, merger and acquisition, corporate/project financing, product and market revitalization, business process innovation, and organizational realignment.

2. Strategic Management — shifted focus of the corporate culture to value creation, re-engineered management and decision processes, restructured businesses around value centers rather than functions, and developed systems for asset value management.

3. Business Development — screened new business candidates, created high-tech product opportunities, developed international market entry alternatives, refocused business plan for partners in global consortium, and analyzed competing venture development strategies.

4. Risk Management — diversified commodity portfolio risks, documented mega-project construction and operating risks, assessed technical and economic risks of industrial equipment repair/replacement, and measured financial liquidity risks.

5. Decision Analysis — optimized R&D project portfolios, assessed market uncertainties for new products, evaluated capital cost sensitivities, compared risks of alternative technologies, and analyzed risk and return of investment decisions.

Responsible for marketing and managing up to $5 million of annual consulting project revenues in energy, oil & gas, utilities, pulp & paper, forestry, mining & metals, chemicals, software, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, telecommunications, automotive, insurance, and financial service industries. Developed long-term account relationships with clients; led practice area development; and organized internal processes for recruiting, training, and performance review.

Resource Planning Associates October 1980 to August 1981

Senior Associate San Francisco, CA

Consultant in energy and natural resource practice area. Responsible for marketing and managing up to $1 million in consulting project revenues. Developed EPRI seminar program for electric utility executives. Focused on decision analysis for R&D and technical investments.

SRI International September 1978 to October 1980

Decision Analyst Menlo Park, CA

Assisted government and corporate clients with decision support software design, cryptography research choices, residential fire prevention strategies, refinery/petrochemical plant expansion options, oil sands investment decisions, and coal gasification technology R&D selection.

Institute for the Future November 1973 to September 1974

Research Associate Menlo Park, CA

Researched future trends: societal values in response to the energy crisis, critical global priorities for philanthropic foundation programs, and social impacts of telecommunications technology.


PhD 1979 Engineering-Economic Systems Stanford University

MS 1976 Engineering-Economic Systems Stanford University

MA 1973 Technology and Human Affairs Washington University, St. Louis

BA 1971 Psychology Stanford University

Professional Affiliations

Scientific Research Society (Sigma Xi)

Association for Psychological Type (APT)

Certified trainer for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)