Recognizing Improvement

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Selecting a home building company to honor with the Professional Builder Builder of the Year can be alternately rewarding and harrowing. We love getting to look inside fabulous companies and see how they work.

December 01, 2007
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Giant 400 online survey

Selecting a home building company to honor with the Professional Builder Builder of the Year can be alternately rewarding and harrowing. We love getting to look inside fabulous companies and see how they work. The experience is a bit like an auto mechanic getting to rummage about under the hood of a Maserati. Just being there is fun.

However, we also feel the heaviness of the responsibility in identifying a company for this recognition. By selecting a company, we are elevating it to the pantheon of home builders, and holding that company up as a beacon of success. If we make a wrong selection, we undermine ourselves, of course, but also the previous companies we have selected and the industry as a whole. We take that duty seriously.

Now, raising such concerns when I am about to praise the company we have selected for the 2008 Professional Builder Builder of the Year award may seem like I'm coming in the side door, but it is important to note how wary the editorial staff was of making this selection in the current housing environment. We worried we could easily have gone wrong.

But by selecting Veridian Homes of Madison, Wis., we have most definitely gone right. Please turn to page 42 to find out all the wonderful things these people do. In this space, though, I want to focus on one thing in particular that allowed us to choose Veridian for this award. It can be summed up in two words: "continuous improvement."

The phrase is a common adage of the quality improvement folk, and as such it has lost of some of its meaning. I often hear companies speak about their continuous improvement. I seldom see a company that truly does it. Most have spent a bit of time developing processes and implementing them. Then those processes stay in place without change for years, even if the results they deliver are meager or declining.

In my estimation, there are two things that prevent true continuous development in builders; they are two things that Veridian has in abundance.

The first is a culture of improvement. Culture is about people. If you hire employees who are not interested in improving themselves, you are unlikely to create a culture of improvement. You need people who are questioning and challenging, constantly looking for a better way to do something. If everyone on your staff is satisfied and happy, you will quickly become stagnant. Hang around with the people at Veridian and you notice immediately that while they have pride in what they do, they also have a measure of dissatisfaction that drives them to look for ways to do it better.

The second thing is a way to improve. Believe me, if you have people around you who are dissatisfied with the status quo and you don't provide them a way to improve it, you will quickly see them undermine the whole system. If you are lucky, they will leave because you do not want such improvement-driven employees rooting around under the hood of your Edsel. Veridian has the systems in place that allow such quality people to tinker and build and excel. The result is continuous improvement.

For that, we honor Veridian Homes with the Professional Builder Builder of the Year award.

 

Giant 400 online survey

Every year, Professional Builder reports on the 400 largest home builders in the United States. The "Annual Report on Housing's Giants" has become an industry-defining list. This year, we need your help. With the current shake-up in the housing industry, we are anticipating major changes in this list. Even if you never thought you would meet the requirements, we would like to hear from you. Like you, we're curious to see who the new players are. Maybe your company is one of them. Please go to www.probuilder.com/400survey to complete a survey.

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