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.
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.
A key aspect of quality management is the importance we place on employees, valuing people. We spend a significant amount of time and money officially sending this message to our team, espousing this pillar of quality. Yet, while doing this, we often directly contradict this by sending a clearer and longer lasting message. Let me give you a few examples.
Being creative and innovative is something that is widely touted, but how do we actually do it?
This may be needed for a particular issue during land development, most certainly necessary during design and of course during construction. In todays economy cutting costs is a constant factor and to do this whether you are using lean, value engineering etc etc at the core is being creative and innovative. While there are a range of issues that go into making a company or team creative including culture, here is one structured approach to creativity, PISA.
A Risk Management Benchmarking Survey in 2010 showed that 65% of businesses conduct no form of risk analysis prior to making major corporate decisions. While on 42% have any form of risk management audits or procedures. However, a study in the Accenture Global Risk Management Study in 2011 showed that for 98% risk was now seen as a higher priority than just two years ago.
Construction projects are complex in nature and prone to cost and schedule overruns. A significant factor that often contributes to such overruns is rework.
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.