Step by step process diagrams for performance excellence: NHQA

February 29, 2012

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.

The NHQ Award is modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and represents the housing industry’s highest recognition for achievements in total quality management. The program is also more than just an award. Builders use the NHQ Award as a process for improving their businesses. Each applicant receives a detailed written report and those applications which satisfy a sufficient amount of the established criteria undergo a one to two day on-site evaluation by a panel of experts. The benefit is utilizing the criteria year in and year out as a guide for improvement as the NHQ Award provides objective benchmarking on quality improvement.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the NHQ criteria is that it represents a proven formula for not only running a business but improving it year after year which cascades down to improvements in financial results. The criteria consist of eight categories; Leadership, Strategic Planning, Customer Satisfaction, Performance Management, Human Resources, Constructed Quality, Trade Relationships and Business Results. Each element represents a building block in achieving organizational success representing the leadership and planning required to be successful, the stake holders involved in business and the processes and measures which guide an organization to success. As a past Gold Level recipient I can confirm the success which comes from following a well thought out criteria and requirements.   

Understanding the depth of the questions and answering them in the process of applying for the National Housing Quality Award can appear daunting and is a key first step in traveling the path of continuous improvement and organizational success. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of applying is the awareness which results when you realize there are gapping voids in the business which you didn’t realize existed. The process is intended to make you think deeply about the organization, perhaps deeper than ever before. And once the light bulbs start going off a picture emerges of how much better things could be by continuously improving the business.

To help those interested in improving their business and futures a personal web page has been developed to help you better understand the criteria. Along with elements for each of the eight categories are two helpful navigation links titled NHQ Diagrams and the more complex NHQ Framework both of which can be found at this link.

The NHQ Diagrams provide an overview of the intent behind each category and how it flows through each of the requirements while the NHQ Framework provides a step by step process to follow to ensure all aspects are considered. Depending on where you are at as an organization one may work better for you than the other.

The key is to start and to start today in understanding how to improve those aspects of your business which will lead to greater financial success.

Tom can be contacted at

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. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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