I remember where I was . . . I remember who I was with . . .

Posted September 11, 2019 By Fletcher Groves

(this post is placed on Escape from Averageness®, every year, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks)

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, eighteen years ago, at 8:46 AM, I was in the offices of Fidelity Homes, in Venice, Florida, commencing a process mapping engagement to give this start-up homebuilding company a state-of-the-art set of business processes.  SAI Consulting’s involvement was part of a large pro bono effort, called “From the Ground Up”, that was arranged by Professional Builder, that included a number of top consultants serving the homebuilding industry.

I was the Process Architect for Fidelity Homes.

Sitting across the table were David Hunihan and Todd Menke, two young (at the time) builders, eager to take their experience in homebuilding and pursue a National Housing Quality award.  We were well underway, when David was pulled away by a telephone call.  It was his wife, Lauren, asking if he was aware of what was going on in New York City.

As the events continued to unfold, in New York City, in Washington DC, in western Pennsylvania, we finally decided that it was impossible to focus on mapping workflow, and, anyway, under the circumstances, whatever we were doing did not seem all that important.  We cancelled everything for the rest of the day, and, in our own ways, watched and tried to process what was happening.

Bill Lurz, then a senior editor at Professional Builder, joined us the following day.  We finished the project two days later, and I drove back to my family in Ponte Vedra Beach through a tropical storm.  On that day, the welcome home had extra meaning.

The article for “From the Ground Up’ was written and published in Professional Builder.  I told the full story of Fidelity Homes in a six-part series on Escape from Averageness® in 2011, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

I still consider the events of 9/11 to be a matter of unfinished business for this country, because we still haven’t accomplished what we set out to do.  Time has only increased my feelings about it.  We were attacked, eighteen years ago, because of who we were, because of who we unapologetically remain.  Our enemies see it as unfinished business, as well.

Evil is the enemy of good;  that evil has an ever-more-radical face, both secular and non-secular.  In the presence of that evil, we have failed to clearly state what war is;  we have dismissed the understanding of war as the complete and utter destruction of an enemy.

It doesn’t matter what we think of issues like American Exceptionalism, our place in the world, the tradeoff between national security and the constitutional rights to privacy of US citizens, the threat of terrorist attacks on our own soil, the still-unaddressed murder of US diplomats and security personnel in Benghazi, the ramifications of decisions not to intervene in Iran and Syria, the continuing involvement in Afghanistan, the ebb and flow of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of other bad actors, the question of what happens if Iran or North Korea become terrorist regimes with nuclear weapons.

The discussions on all of those matters miss the point.

The discussions miss the point, because they don’t address the root cause of the problem.  The core problem is not the threat of future terrorist attacks or rogue regime nuclear attacks.  The problem is the terrorists and their sponsors;   the problem is rogue nuclear regimes and their enablers.

And, the solution is not attrition, or containment, or control, or minimization, or dismantlement of the threat, or mounting an international coalition against terror, or imposing sanctions, or providing more humanitarian aid, or granting political asylum, or creating deeper understanding, or negotiating peace, or peace, itself.

It is true that, as Christians, we are told to love our enemies.  It is also true that love and forgiveness do not remove consequences, and that scripture is filled with instances when the children of God were instructed to destroy their enemies.  And – yes – at some point, the One, True God, in His righteousness and omnipotence, may decide to impart His own justice to this situation.

However – absent divine intervention – we cannot afford the “problem of conjecture”, as Henry Kissinger described it.  We have now assured ourselves that there will be a war;  if not a nuclear war, then certainly a war over who will have nuclear weapons.  Competitors that already have nuclear weapons no longer fear us;  the ones that hope to obtain them will not fear us, either.  We are now in a far more dangerous, more deadly situation than we were in the aftermath of 9/11.

“Fleury.  Tell me what you whispered to Janet, in the briefing, to get her to stop crying about Fran, you know, before all this, before we even got airborne.  What’d you say to her?  You remember?”

“I told her we were gonna kill ’em all.”

(The Kingdom, Universal Pictures, 2007)

 

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Pipeline Workshop™ No. 12: Change the Date

Posted September 10, 2019 By Fletcher Groves

Pipeline Workshop™ No. 12, scheduled for October 17-18, 2019, is being rescheduled and combined with Pipeline Workshop™ No. 13, which will be scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.

The principal reason driving our decision is that one of the longtime sponsors of Pipeline Workshops™ (Specitup) is on the cusp of adding important management technology tools directly related to “pipeline-thinking”, and we want them included.

However, these tools will not be available in time to include them in Pipeline Workshop™ No. 12.

We think these tools are an important, practical, working addition to the production principles and disciplines taught in a Pipeline workshop™.  So, we have decided to delay Pipeline Workshop™ No. 12 and combine it with Pipeline Workshop™ No. 13, which will take place in March of 2020.

Like every Pipeline workshop™ that has ever been held, combined Pipeline Workshops™ No. 12-13 will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Check back on Escape from Averageness® (www.escape.saiconsulting.com) for updates.  Registration for the combined Pipeline Workshops™ No. 12-13 will open in early December.

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

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Pipeline workshops™ are a size-limited, intense, interactive, comprehensive, industry-specific immersion into the principles and disciplines that drive homebuilding production.

Now finishing their sixth year, we have made a lot of additions and changes to improve these events.  For one, we have added the RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© business case with its challenging set of problem-solving exercises;  many of those business case exercises deal with another component we have added, what we call the Velocity Accelerators®.

Nevertheless, most attendees and observers will tell you that the most compelling part of a Pipeline workshop™ is the Pipeline game™, in which teams of geographically-diverse builders go through a progression of production scenarios that produce business outcomes;  a production simulator that simultaneously covers both the home building business and the business of building homes.

It is the same Pipeline game™ we have used at Housing Leadership Summits. at CertainTeed Builder Advisory Groups, at Builder 20 Groups, at Pipeline workshops™ held privately for large builders, and at Builder Technology Summits.

Pipeline Games™ reinforce the production principles taught in the Pipeline workshop™, including:  (1) the effect of variation on a production system, (2) pull scheduling according to the capacity of a constraint resource, and (3) the importance of connecting operating decisions made on matters like flow (of sales, starts, and closings), cycle time, capacity utilization, and the level of work-in-process, to the critical business outcomes of profitability and return on assets.

You could look at the results from any previous workshop.  The results never lie.  Consider this set of results.  In every category – from Revenue, to WIP levels, to Inventory Turns, to Cycle Time, to Net Income, to Return on Invested Assets – the teams made remarkable progress towards targeted performance, often exceeding expectations.

Look at the results, and you will see something else:  the teams rarely started out that way.

The game has changed, so the metrics have changed.  And, you clearly have to play the Pipeline game™ – see the measures and calculate the results for yourself – in order to fully understand what the axis values mean;  instead, focus on the performance trends (y-axis), as the games in this workshop progressed (x-axis).

This was Revenue . . . higher . . .

This was inventory turn . . . faster . . .

This was cycle time, expressed in days . . . shorter . . .

This was Net Income Margin . . . better . . .

This was Return on Assets, a reflection of its co-equal components:  Net Income Margin (margin) and inventory turn (velocity) . . . higher . . .

After the initial shock of shattered instincts, every metric was in precisely the direction you would want, precisely the direction you would expect, if the underlying production principles are true, and if real progress is being made.

Like the builders attending every Pipeline workshop™, the builders attending this workshop clearly learned from their participation.

They learned the principles and disciplines of homebuilding production.

Pipeline games™ teach builders to “see” production;  they simulate the environment – fast-paced, rapidly-changing, filled with uncertainty, risk, and variation – in which homebuilding production decisions must be made.  It is learning based on experience and action, not words.

Pipeline games™ compress the learning curve.

In a Pipeline workshop™, the progression of the games mirrors the progression of the learning.  In the book that gave rise to the workshops (The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©), this is how they were described:

“Change is a necessary condition to any improvement effort, but change is difficult, disruptive, time-consuming, and costly;  the effort can fail to produce the desired – the intended – result.  Learning needs to occur without so much cost, disruption, and risk.  Managing production and improving operating and financial performance becomes intuitive and simple, but there is much to understand.  It is counter to what is taught, therefore, difficult to grasp;  it must be learned, and that is harsh when it occurs at the cost of real operating performance and actual business outcomes.”

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 17-18, 2019.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  for team pricing, ask flgroves@saiconsulting.com

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group.

Sponsored by Specitup.

Details:  www.buildervelocity.com

      

Pipeline Workshops™: Disruptive Learning

Posted August 25, 2019 By Fletcher Groves

“The concept of production building being a ‘pipeline’, along with the simple and straight-forward concepts discussed in this seminar, made this one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had when it comes to learning about production building.”  (Patrick Bukszar, Dir. Construction Services, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ was an eye-opening experience.  I took away invaluable insight on what it takes to operate a profitable homebuilding company.”   (Daniel Hopkins, Director of Purchasing/Estimating, Jeff Benton Homes, Huntsville, AL)

“I walked away with a new perspective on making returns in residential homebuilding that challenged the models and assumptions I have worked under.”  (Mark Carter, Operations Manager, Drees Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

“It was quite intense, challenging, and not for the intellectually lazy”. (Scott Sedam, President, TrueNorth Development, South Lyon, MI)

In relentlessly improving Pipeline workshops™, our intent – simply, plainly – is to open builders’ eyes, open them wider than they have ever been opened, and to make the learning as disruptive as possible to conventional, long-accepted ways of thinking.

We don’t want to just inform attendees’ thinking;  we want to reform it – and re-form it.  We want to change their thinking about homebuilding production, and, in so doing, rebuild it as a new understanding of homebuilding production.

To that end, we developed and use two unique tools:

Both a production simulator and a business game, Pipeline games™ are what make Pipeline workshops™ so intense, so interactive, so competitive, so unique, so worthwhile.  The best production simulator in the business (and the only one of its kind), we have made the Pipeline game™ even better over the past five years, shortening its duration, giving it an income/operating statement that looks exactly like a homebuilding company, comparing integrated and outsourced building models, and more.

Developed specifically for Pipeline workshops™, the RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© business case is a business case that presents a set of problems related to a very realistic homebuilding operation, problems that attendees are required to solve;  it is a test that challenges their knowledge and understanding of production and business principles.

The use of Pipeline games™ and the RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© business case makes a Pipeline workshop™ – already known for its unique, engaging format – a much sharper learning experience.

Pipeline workshops™:  creating a visual image of homebuilding production;  making the connection between operating decisions and the business outcomes those decisions drive;  ushering in a new way of systems-oriented thinking – a paradigm shift – towards solving core problems, managing constrained capacity, dealing with variation and uncertainty, and managing homebuilding production as the specific and particular workflow that it is;  emphasizing the actions that enable builders to thrive on the velocity side of Return on Assets.

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 17-18, 2019.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  for team pricing, inquire here: (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group.  Sponsored by Specitup.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

      

Pipeline Workshops™: Right for You?

Posted August 17, 2019 By Fletcher Groves

Homebuilding production is a system.  It has to be managed as a system.  In order to be managed as a system, it must first be understood as a system.

That type of ordered, process-centric, capacity-focused understanding – that way of thinking – is not the homebuilding industry’s natural inclination;  it clashes with the deal-driven, product-centric, margin-focused mentality that pervades the industry.

Right now – and going forward – that understanding is crucial, because in an industry facing mega-challenges still less than a decade after the worst economic and housing recession in three-quarters of a century, it can no longer be a comfortable choice between two components of economic return, choosing between achieving higher margin or higher velocity.

No.  It is now an imposed requirement to achieve higher margins at higher velocities.

Achieving that requirement is what creates sustainable competitive separation;  sustainable competitive separation is what determines survival.

Pipeline workshops™ are a two-day immersion into production physics – into the principles and disciplines that enable homebuilders to thrive on the velocity side of Return on Assets, to thrive on the velocity side of economic return®.  Pipeline workshops™ transfer in-depth knowledge and create an intuitive, instinctive understanding of production principles and disciplines, focused exclusively on homebuilding operations.

Pipeline workshops™ are not a lecture;  the material is comprehensive, the learning is intense, and the format is interactive and competitive;  they are size-limited events.

The comprehensiveness, intensity, interaction, and competitiveness found in a Pipeline workshop™ flows from two unique elements:  (1) RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© is a state-of-the-art business case;  (2) the Pipeline game™ is a progressive series of production scenarios that simulate homebuilding production in the real business world, in an environment of variation and uncertainty, where operating decisions result in economic outcomes.  And, those outcomes are diagnosed after each game, so that the connection between operating decisions and business outcomes is embedded, the principles and disciplines ingrained.

What do you get from a Pipeline workshop™?  

  • A visual image of a homebuilding production system – its purpose, its size, its cost, its length, its capacity;
  • An elegant understanding of how operating decisions drive business outcomes, and how the measures of operating performance connect to the measures of business outcomes; 
  • A set of mental models – a way of thinking about size, growth, capacity, even-flow production, cost of variation, and other critical areas that define a homebuilding production system, provide a systemic approach to solving production problems and managing finite production capacity, and deliver a blended approach to managing the unique attributes and parameters of homebuilding production; 
  • A set of velocity accelerators – deeper dives into Pipeline™ tactics, techniques, and practices like trade partnering, job scheduling, and process improvement – that shorten schedules, reduce cycle times, produce higher quality with less waste, and achieve higher throughput with a planned, finite, and controlled amount of capacity and work-in-process.

Is a Pipeline workshop™ right for you? 

Pipeline workshops™ are not about job titles, operational scope, or company size.  They are intended for anyone charged with the critical responsibility of managing – or managing interactions with – a production system at some level of a homebuilding enterprise.  Pipeline workshops™ are for anyone – and everyone – who must understand/manage homebuilding production and drive results, including:

  • C-Level Executives – Presidents, CEOs, CFOs
  • Division and Regional Managers
  • Vice Presidents of Operations and Construction
  • Vice Presidents of Sales and Marketing
  • Design, Estimating, and Purchasing Managers
  • Production Managers
  • Construction Managers

Pipeline workshops™ are also an excellent experience for the equivalent positions with building trade partners – for the manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and subcontractors who must interact with builders in the value stream.

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 17-18, 2019.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  for team pricing, ask flgroves@saiconsulting.com

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group.  Sponsored by Specitup.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com