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.
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."--W. Edwards Deming
Using Lean concepts can be very powerful; the trick is using them correctly. In an earlier blog I discussed ‘Lean and Six Sigma in Construction’ (available at the following link) where I described the different types of waste and key elements to focus on when using lean.
Building a home made entirely from American made products from the nails to the bathtub was achieved by Bozeman, Montana builder Anders Lewendal. There are more than 120 products from 33 states. Anders believes that if every builder bought just 5% more American materials this could create 220,000 jobs. He does acknowledge that using American products can be more expensive, however, only 1 to 2 percent more than a foreign-sourced house.
This link will take you to an ABC News video on the home
Are you curious? Sometimes I wonder just how curious people really are. For example do you talking to those next to you at conferences? I don’t mean about where they are from or other generalities about their company, but rather to find out how and where they can help you improve in your business. I am always surprised to find people attending conferences that listen intently to the speakers but somehow don’t think about talking with fellow, attendees despite the fact that they are also at that event with the aim to learn new ideas and improve.
Big Q and little q is a term coined by Dr Juran and is key in fully understanding quality. It contrasts the difference between managing for quality in all aspects of business process, products and services which is Big Q. While little q relates to a much more limited capacity. For example not taking the larger picture into consideration but rather just focusing on a product itself. Big Q is about a broad, strategic and complex perspective and little q is about a micro aspect an operational issue such as quality control.
Yes believe it or not we can learn a lot from the simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While this is very simple it is also a low cost, fun and engaging way that you can tap into a whole range of issues. This is an ideal approach for those new to quality as a method of introduction, but even for those that have been involved with process improvement this can be a fun workshop to help refocus. It can also be conducted as a small breakout session lasting just a few minutes or as a long workshop.
The issues this can address include:
In a recent discussion regarding the impact of quality on the ASQ Design & Construction Division Linkedin Group, a member made the comment that ‘everything made by man is defective.’ Of course this is correct, we cannot create perfection. It was a wonderful comment and it made me ponder perfection in construction and to think of some of the world’s most ancient and iconic buildings and be reminded of just how long quality and construction have been associated.
Wisdom is timeless, which is why two Harvard Business Review articles published in 2001 and 2008 are still as valid and thought provoking today as when they were published. (The references to the papers are listed at the end of this blog.)
In an economic crisis and industry downturn Rigby considers that there are three phases and critical dos and don’ts to be aware of in each stage.
Reflect on how you reacted in phases 1 & 2 and how you plan to react as phase 3 emerges.
1. Storm clouds gather.
Don’t act as if the storm will blow over.
What are the risks for your business. Where are your weak points? Obviously safety is a key issue, but what about warranty, defects and other issues?
Specific risk sources in construction projects include:
BIM is technology which can be of enormous help. It can of course be a great tool to help us integrate for example design and estimating. It should also become a critical tool for communication with the client, engineering consultants and trade partners and in this way help to create an integrated project. BUT let us not forget the construction team! If the construction team is not involved then the critical opportunity to better connect Design – Construction or rather Design-Build is lost.