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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!
The New York Times today has more information on what the Obama administration is considering to stimulate the housing industry (and hence the economy.) Consider me underwhelmed. Unfortunately, it's more of the same: mortgage assistance and encouraging rental programs. After all, it's worked so well before.
Todd Hallett and I are working with a fantastic smaller builder in California this week. They really “get it” and are very open to input from all of their suppliers and trades. They build very good looking homes at affordable prices and are highly sensitive to anything that would “dumb down the house” or hurt the visual appeal in any way.
As I sit on a plane bound for Fresno I am procrastinating. I know I have to put together this week’s blog but there are a few things to handle first. I need to thoroughly read my Newspaper (front to back even the boring stuff). Of course I cannot get started until the snack portion of the trip is over. I must garner some energy from Delta ’s bizarre oblong ginger cookie thing.  Most sinful of all? A quick game of computer solitaire before I begin. We all do it from time to time right?
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.
We all know the job market continues to be lousy more than two years after the recession officially ended. There's a variety of reasons for this.
The Washington Post is reporting this morning that President Obama's jobs program will include amongst its many proposals more relief for struggling homeowners. The president will lay out the particulars of the proposals after Labor Day. Details are lacking at this point on housing, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
Photo: Ply Gem Windows’ Builder Series Pocket Door can span up to 12 feet and is just $400 for the base model.             If you missed the results of our annual 101 Best New Products report, I encourage you to check out our landing page for the 2011 winners, www.HousingZone.com/101BestNewProducts/2011.
In case you missed it in the news section of HousingZone, Fiserv and Moody's Analytics are predicting home prices will increase in 365 out of 384 metro areas by 2013. Here are what they're saying will be the top-five and bottom-five performers over the next two years. The best:
There's not much doubt where new construction sits these days -- bouncing along the bottom. The remodeling market, on the other hand, is a lot more difficult to get a read on.
I recently conducted several searches in both residential and commercial businesses in multiple states. The positions ranged from superintendents to heads of Pre-Construction and Construction roles.I started with each candidate by spending an average of 1.5 hours on the phone discussing experiences, backgrounds, personalities, likes and dislikes and strengths and developmental areas……No rocket science stuff, just give me the facts….After talking to a huge group of potential candidates, I narrowed down the pool to a critical few.
I am finishing up my September column for Professional Builder based on a list of the 10 biggest myths of Lean Building, and I just wrote about one of the most aggravating — the idea that Lean process savings don’t count like saving in sticks and bricks.
So, they said we needed change. They said it would get worse before it got better. They said unemployment is decreasing. They said the rate of foreclosures was decreasing. They said there were signs we were in recovery from the recession. Now they say we are heading for ANOTHER recession. Well, we got change. They were right. It certainly got worse and hasn’t gotten better.
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. 
  Over my 30 years of working with senior leaders, I have seen the good the bad and the very ugly. It seems that any “C’ level person who has the privilege to put a “E” as their second letter in their title through a promotion automatically is hit with a cosmic ray from deep space that creates behavior that many times creates a lack of optimization in their workforce.   
Growing up near Detroit, I know that old plans are like old cars —sooner or later they start costing you more money than they are worth. It is tempting to hold onto a previous best seller and keep it in the system for no other reason than that you have the bugs worked out. The contracts are set, the variances are low, and the trades know what to do.
As I write this week’s blog on a plane from Detroit to Vegas, I happened upon an article in the Delta in-flight magazine about healthy eating and guess what? All the things we know about eating eggs and egg yolks, common knowledge learned during the 80’s and 90’s that persists to this day – are flat out wrong. Eggs do NOT raise your cholesterol. They are, in fact, a virtually perfect food, full of protein and raising HDL (good cholesterol) reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and helping keep a steady blood glucose level.
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. http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/article_b6f5b70e-bfbe-11e0-89f1-001cc4c002e0.html  

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