Total Quality Revisited

Editorial Director Paul Deffenbaugh emphasizes the importance of housing quality.
By Paul Deffenbaugh | July 31, 2008

Recently, the editorial staff has been having quite a discussion about the role of total quality management in home building companies. Some contend home builders are fad followers and TQM is a management fad that has passed. Others feel that now is the time — more than ever — that builders should be implementing TQM principles.

The discussion has boiled to a head because of our involvement in the National Housing Quality Awards, the judging of which is going on as I write. For nearly 15 years, Professional Builder has co-sponsored the awards with the NAHB Research Center. After this year, the Research Center is going to drop its involvement so it can concentrate on the National Housing Quality Certification program.

I want to say publicly that PB is committed to the NHQ Awards, and we feel it is an excellent next step of achievement beyond the certification program. Even though the Research Center has chosen not to continue with this aspect of the TQM program, it is committed to the ideas of best practices for home builders. Mike Luzier, president of the Research Center, says his team sees a direct correlation between builders' ability to execute a quality-built green home and the need for well-executed quality processes. And the NHQ certification program is a superior way for builders to implement changes in their organizations that will improve the bottom line and build great homes.

We have made the decision to continue our support of the NHQ Award in spite of our belief that builders tend to follow management fads. We all agreed there is nothing more important we can do as an information service in these times than give our audience tools to help them survive. And we all believe there are no better tools for surviving than a commitment to implementing quality process and best practices.

"Commitment" is a word that stresses all the right things about the NHQ Awards and TQM. Without it, builders seeking to make the kinds of changes necessary to garner recognition and enact improvement will not succeed. With it, they will find not only that they have significantly improved their businesses, but that they can reassure their prospective customers they are truly the highest order of professional builder.