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The title of this blog is tongue in cheek (or maybe foot in mouth) as a follow up to a blog I wrote a while back titled, "Second Floor Laundries are Just Stupid, or are They?"
"What we hear too often is, don't confuse me with the facts, I know what I want to do." Bill Denney PhD
Technology has made gathering data so much easier. However, the problem is we can be overwhelmed by it. Surveys, stats, city, state and national data sources can be accessed and reams of paper can be printed to provide us with the information we need. But the key is interpreting that data, knowing how to use it, knowing what it is telling us. Where are the gaps in the market, what are price points that customers can afford etc. The key is to gather data and then analyze it and make decisions on that data, not on gut feel.
A young doctor was just setting up his first office when his secretary told him there was a man to see him. The doctor wanted to make a good first impression by having the man think he was successful and very busy. He told his secretary to show the man in. At that moment, the doctor picked up the telephone and pretended to be having a conversation with a patient. The man waited until the "conversation" was over. Then, the doctor put the telephone down and asked, "Can I help you?" To which the man replied, "No, I'm just here to connect your telephone."
This week's installment of Charlie Scott on Customer Satisfaction in Home Building questions how new houses are delivered to customers.  Admittedly this entry is a bit cryptic, and you will have to study it, but hopefully this cryptic analogy will bring some clarity to your home building company's delivery process.  Clearly, there is no one "right" way to deliver homes to customers, but it is critical that a home building company deliver on all promises and meet (or exceed) the customers' expectations.  Bon appetit! 
The focus is the customer, it’s about their needs and wants. Sometimes when we try to improve our customer focus and we try to achieve a ‘wow factor’ we actually just add fluff, which at best is window dressing which doesn’t do any harm, but nor does it have benefit and it still adds cost and time. But in the worst case adding fluff can lose you a customer.
My son Tyler (second of 4 children), age 29, is taking a new position with a homebuilder after having two good building industry jobs in the past, both of which vanished in the housing recession. Despite the previous disappointments, he sees this as a great opportunity with a real chance to grow with a good company. It got me thinking about all the work I have done in my career, where I did well, where I screwed up, who I have hired, who I have fired, and all the people I have watched soar and those I have seen flame out.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a tool that can assist in identifying where your areas of risk lie and helps structure solutions.
Better bust out the Grey Poupon for this one. Turrets, steep roof, stone and stucco will drive up the cost per square foot a bit on this design. However, as I have mentioned in the past, Lean Design is not about cost, it is about value. Lean Design focuses on eliminating waste and providing maximum value for the customer through collaborative design. In a custom home scenario like this one, the collaboration happens with the customer, building team, architect and key trades and suppliers. Let's take a closer look:
Years ago, well after the huge productivity gains of the industrial revolution, employers still sought productivity improvement.  In an effort to find these productivity gains, many studies were conducted to find causes and effects of higher productivity.The most popular study was done at Hawthorne Works between 1924-32, where researchers tinkered with many variables, then measured worker output to see if their tinkering had the desired effect.  The most famous experiment involved slowly increasing the lighting – which resulted in higher output, however, this higher output
In 1989 Warren Bennis published ‘On Becoming a Leader’ which became a key leadership book. He stated that leaders “know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to fully deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.” The key of course is compensating for weaknesses, not ignoring them. The honest study of the strengths and weaknesses of an organization should also be studied and again, the weaknesses compensated for, but not ignored.
A recent experience got me thinking about how companies all-too-often fall back on financial incentives when dealing with an unhappy customer, yet totally miss the point and fail to solve the problem. Allow me to explain: I’m a long-time reader of the Chicago Tribune, but a series of delivery problems from the paper never showing up to arriving hours after I left for work lead me to first cancel the daily paper, then, finally, to recently give up the ghost and cancel the Sunday as well.
The Belbin team roles are used to help create effective and balanced teams.  Few individuals are strong in all of these roles, so ensuring you have a good mix on a team can make a real difference. It also needs to be noted that each role has its own strengths and weakness.
The Brady Bunch is a font of life lessons from the importance of compromise to why you should never lie to your parents to ... uh ... never walk out in the backyard without keeping an eye out for a football. So once again I find myself turning to The Brady Bunch when it comes to dealing with the challenges of selling projects under the Lead Repair & Painting Program rule.
“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'" We can thank Jessica Simpson for addressing that puzzling situation. A bit trickier, however, is the mystery centered around Lean design. Let me help clear it up. Lean design is an optimization of materials and processes achieved by high-level trade/supplier collaboration. Lean design focuses on the elimination of waste and is viable at ANY price point. A $5 million home can be just as Lean as an $85,000 home.
Every builder wants to have outstanding customer satisfaction, right?  Our research shows that to accomplish the highest customer satisfaction builders must think outside the box, and I don’t mean the proverbial “creative box,” I mean literally outside the house box!In our role as the “Voice of the Customer” partner for many of the nation’s leading home builders, we read and analyze thousands of customer surveys.  This extensive multi-market, multi-builder research allows us to  pattern and identify the industry's most frequent customer
During an orientation recently with a room full of suppliers and trades for one of our “LeanPlan Workout” implementations, I was interrupted by a woman who clearly did not appreciate my message. Despite my saying it 6 different ways and illustrating with numerous pictures, she was not buying my story that Lean is not about “dumbing down” the houses.
The Lean Enterprise Institute surveys show that 36% of companies attempting lean give up the efforts. Customer Relationship Magazine cites 60% of six sigma programs fail to give desired results. The problem is not the tools it is the approach that has caused the problems and frankly the approach would cause any project to fail.
They say a writer never “makes it” until he gets hate mail. In at least four blog posts this year, I have expressed my frustrations with architects and engineers in this country and those posts have invited a few terse replies, one of which appears below. My rant is that either through lack of care, concern, understanding or education, these professionals rarely recognize the critical link between their work and a builder’s ability to produce a high quality house at any price point in the most efficient, cost-effective, value-producing manner. And that costs us all.

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