Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award.
While dining at a restaurant recently I was asked by the waiter how my meal was and if there was anything that could be improved. The meal and service were wonderful and I had only one minor suggestion. But I did end by thanking them for asking! When was the last time you were asked by a business how they could improve?
While all builders are trying to become leaner, more innovative and customer focused to impact the bottom line, we should not forget about reaching out to our trades. Our partners are crucial and remember they are the experts in their specific area of the business.
Measure twice and cut once. I think that is probably the first thing I ever learnt in construction and I learnt it as a kid listening to my Dad and Uncle while they reviewed plans in the evening and worked on site each day. You can’t get a more fundamental quality management concept than that and it’s a phrase we use so often in the industry. The concept of course applies to all aspects of design and construction. We can consider it when drafting a home plan, estimating, material storage, construction and customer service.
In the wake of Steve Jobs retirement announcement as CEO, Apple shares fell by 5%. For most people Apple is Steve Jobs, so that’s not a surprise. He is staying on in a leadership role, can you imagine the fall if he had stepped away entirely? Jobs created, then saved and kept Apple as one of the world’s most valuable and innovative organizations. But it wasn’t just vision and inspiration. He created new and must have products during a recession!
From Cargill to Caterpillar, from Motorola and Boeing to Ritz Carlton they all use the Baldrige Criteria to successfully drive performance excellence at a world class level. They are not alone, healthcare, education, non-profits and small business organizations also use the criteria all over the world. The National Housing Quality Award is based on the Baldrige criteria and our industry has also found the criteria a powerful way to drive improvement and increase profits.
A hotspot is a recurring problem, by focusing on the top ranking hotspot with corrective and preventive action they can be reduced or eliminated allowing you to move to addressing the next ranking issue. These might be the top issues of customer complaints or top construction defects for example. The only way to know where your problems lie is to establish metrics to monitor your key processes. When you have a problem don’t just put a band aid on it, it will come back!
Here are some interesting results from a 2011 survey by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.
When we talk about sustainable home building we focus on energy efficiency and green.
But another level of sustainable building is ensuring that every component of the home was locally or at least Made in the USA! A local builder in Bozeman MT did just that.
Follow this link to the story.
The SMART acronym is an excellent way to evaluate your goals and objectives.
Are they Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely
Specific means that the goal is clear and unambiguous. You will need to consider the following.
Disorganized and untidy job sites are covered with destroyed or damaged materials, reflect chaos between trades, reduce productivity and send the message to those homeowners beside and near your homes under construction just how their homes were built, not to mention are safety violation and injuries just waiting to happen. From another perspective, how much do you spend on marketing?