Quality Management

Blogs related to Quality Management in Professional Home Building and Remodeling Business.



Flat, team based and empowered organizations have the potential to out-perform tall hierarchical organizations in most every competitive industry and that includes home building! I have always enjoyed conversations on business improvement with Tom Gillespie, a NHQ Award winning builder, NHQA Judge and consultant. In this blog Tom engages us in a conversation regarding the importance and impact of flat, empowered organizations.

Process improvement can often be received with impatience and inflated expectations of its impact. One of the regular problems is that a particular piece of the organizations process is asked to be improved in isolation. This is a little like trying to change a wheel while the car speeds along the interstate! The one minor fix is still influenced by the wider system. It can take several improvements to elements of a process to see an impact overall. It needs to be realized that an entire process needs to be improved not just one element in isolation.

Often managers set goals for employees such as a minimum number of units to be produced each week and once this is achieved on a regular basis, then the minimum number is raised and so it continues. This is because of learning curve and assured by a time study.  Sure, however, you are also establishing a never ending game with your staff. Management will always set a goal thinking that it’s one that will stretch us, they will always assume employees will try to play the game and work slower during work studies and so the cycle of gamesmanship continues. This really is about trust.

Checklists and audits may be one of the most basic approaches to quality but they frequently lead to problems of accurate data collection. A common issue that arises is not recording errors or defects in the field. Many trades that find an error when using checklists to review their work will correct a problem they find and not record it. They will say, yes BUT I found it, it was my fault and I corrected it, so it’s not an error!

NHQ Award winning builder, NHQA Judge and consultant Tom Gillespie has developed a set of process diagrams that provide an overview of the intent behind each NHQA category and how it flows through each of the requirements. These outstanding process models help in the thought and decision process for performance excellence from strategic planning (see diagram for one example) to business results. Here Tom discusses how they work.

Recently I’ve seen a financial company misplace $30k, a health care organization twice have a patient end up back in ER and a manufacturer face a class action lawsuit. These are all the sorts of things that risk management and quality management tools and techniques are used to mitigate and avoid. However, each of these cases didn’t need such tools; they just needed to listen to the customer or rather not ignore them.

The NHQA is open to home builders, trade contractors and remodelers. Whether you are building production or custom homes, within communities or build on your lot, whether your homes are $100k or over $1million, if your market is within a city or covers 14 states. Whatever market, climate or home type your business focuses on, using the NHQA criteria and applying for the award is relevant to you and improving your business. Past winners have fitted into this wide range of categories of builders, so you will too.

We have all heard of ‘they’ or ‘them’! You know, ‘they’ never give us enough material to do the job. ‘They’ didn’t leave it ready for us again. It was ‘them’ in (fill in the blank) department that delayed it. The problem is we refer to ‘them’ as though they were some completely isolated group from the organization we work in. While in fact ‘they’ are usually just another group of colleagues in our own department, in another department or an organization we partner with such as a supplier. Some of whom we have lunch with or shoot the breeze with on a regular basis.

In this free book, leaders of Baldrige Award winning, World Class, organizations from all sectors share their success stories and eye-opening results from their organization’s journey to excellence. (This includes the small business sector.)

This case study details the implementation of an extensive program of quality management at Wathen-Castanos, including training, the formation of Work Improvement Groups, benchmarking and the resulting impacts. It also discusses how quality was integrated to help support the building of green and energy efficient homes, all with limited resources. The NHQA criteria was used to coordinate and drive the improvement efforts.

Wathen-Castanos won the EVHA Builder of the Year in 2011, NHQA Bronze in 2010 and Silver in 2011.

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