Archive for December, 2017

Final Vision

Posted December 25, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

In recent years, Oswald Chambers’ words have become the final post of the year on Escape from Averageness®, the encouragement and assurance we wish to share with our clients, colleagues, and friends, for the year ahead.


December 31, 2017

The Final Vision of the Exalted Lord

Matthew 28: 16-20

By His Ascension, our Lord raises Himself to glory, He becomes omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

All the splendid power, so circumscribed in His earthly life, becomes omnipotence;  all the wisdom and insight, so precious but so limited during His life on earth, becomes omniscience;  all the unspeakable comfort of the presence of Jesus, so confined to a few in His earthly life, becomes omnipresence, He is with us all the days.

What kind of Lord Jesus have we?  Is He the all-powerful God in our present circumstances, in our present setting?  Is he the all-wise God of our thinking and our planning?  Is He the ever-present God, “closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet”?

If He is, we know what it means to “abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.

Still Higher for His Highest, Oswald Chambers (compiled by D.W. Lambert, 1970)


Pipeline Workshops™: Disruptive Learning

Posted December 25, 2017 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)

“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 the eyes of the builders that attend, 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 — to re-form it.


  • Pipeline games™ are a production simulator and a business game; they are what make Pipeline workshops™ so intense, so interactive, so competitive, and so worthwhile.  Already the best production sim in the business, we have made the Pipeline game™ even better over the years, shortening its duration and making the operating statement look exactly like a homebuilding operation.
  • RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© is the business case that we developed specifically for Pipeline workshops™; it 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 principles.

The use of Pipeline games™ and the business case means that a Pipeline workshop™ – already known for its unique, engaging format – is now even edgier, because that is where almost all of the learning occurs.

Pipeline workshops™:  creating a visual image of homebuilding production;  making the connection between operating decisions and business outcomes they drive;  building a new way of systems-thinking – a paradigm shift – towards solving core problems, managing constrained capacity, dealing with variation and uncertainty, and managing homebuilding production as the type and mix of workflow that it actually is;  emphasizing the actions that accelerate velocity.


Come.  Participate.  Learn.

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on February 28 – March 1, 2018.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  the cost during early registration (through December 31, 2017) is $750.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group.

Sponsored by BUILDER, BuilderMT, and Specitup.

For more details:


Pipeline Workshops™: More of What Builders Say About It

Posted December 21, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

In their own words, more comments from builders who have attended a Pipeline workshop™:

“The Pipeline Workshop™ and associated business case study was an excellent way to help me shift my production paradigms, from growing capacity to maximizing my current capacity.”  (Chris Harrison, Vice President, Field Operations and Land Development, Dorn Homes)

“The concept of production building being in 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.  I would definitely recommend this seminar to any building company looking to gain a competitive advantage and to learn ways to do more with less.  The hands-on learning approach and interaction with other builders from around the country was invaluable.”   (Patrick Bukszar, Director of Construction Services, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“The exercises and processes opened my eyes to immediate steps I had to take to become a better builder.”  (Lusant Ordonez, CEO, Zenodro Homes, Altamonte Springs, FL)

“[In many] classes, you get a lot of great ideas, but never act on them.  The impact [of] this class resonated in many ways, and has spurred us to take two immediate actions:  (1) hiring the design center manager that we did not think we could afford;  and (2) beginning the implementation to Critical Chain Project Management.  It was very clear;  we have been penny-wise and pound-foolish in not hiring a strong manager for our design center, and the impact of Critical Chain will be huge on the way we conduct business.”  (Karl Haslinger, CEO, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ was an eye opening experience.  Not being an owner of the company, sometimes you don’t realize the impact day-to-day business decisions have on the true desired bottom line results of the company.  Playing the Pipeline game™ gave me that ‘ah-ha’ moment, seeing first-hand how those decisions can influence your bottom line.  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)

“The workshop was really effective in showing how operational decisions affect business outcomes and how risky a ‘more for more’ approach to growing a home building company really is.  The Pipeline games™ were not only fun, but they were super-effective in showing how unbalancing the production system, managing the constraint resource, and managing the right amount of WIP creates predictable operational results and maximizes financial outcomes.

“At the end of the day, running a successful business is about how much money you make on the amount of money you invest.  The Pipeline workshop™ helped me understand this better than any workshop or seminar I’ve ever attended.  I highly recommend it.

“This workshop was really eye-opening!”  (Charles Roberts, Vice President – Operations, Providence Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

“I thoroughly enjoyed the [Pipeline workshop™] and all its learning components!  It does a great job of creating a visual image of homebuilding production, while connecting operating performance to business outcomes.  The workshop is a must for anyone at any level within a homebuilding organization, and goes well-beyond what you get out of [reading The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©].”  (Val Snider, Construction Manager, Lennar SE Florida)

“If [teammates] can utilize this information correctly and make good business decisions, owners are free to consult and finance rather than hand-hold.  I also thought that the interactive games really showed how everyday decisions can make-or-break your production pipeline.  If a start or a closing is delayed, the whole rhythm of the pipeline is off;  you can’t correct that disruption, since it is a function of time.  A [lost] start can never be made up.”  (Sara Flint, CFO, Inland Homebuilding Group, Tampa, FL)

“I highly recommend the Pipeline Workshop™.  The concepts learned have directly affected my building process in a positive way.  Implementation [of these principles] will guarantee a ‘more-for-less’ mentality in any home building operation.”  (Sebastian Alvarez, Member, Alvarez Construction, Baton Rouge, LA)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ really opened my eyes to how a company’s operating performance truly impacts business outcome.  These are things that I already knew, but the workshop caused me to start thinking about it in a different way.  For example, some companies’ motto, including ours, is to put out as many starts as we can, then sort it out in the field. After attending the workshop, I realized how counterproductive this way of thinking is;  releasing more starts than our ‘pipeline’ can support is actually going to cause us to perform worse.”  (Darek Burns, Purchasing and Estimating Manager, Essex Homes, Charlotte, NC)

“[Pipeline workshop™] is a concept that we, as a team, were aware of before coming to the seminar.  That said, being aware of it and being able to understand and implement are two very different things.  After going through the case study and the [simulations], our team went home better prepared to implement it in our company.  We feel that it will be a long-term building block for us going forward.”  (Justin Morrison, Vice President, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ really took a different focus and approach than I was used to.  I enjoyed the group workshop forum that was very interactive.  It’s information that will – long-term and continually – be thought about and digested in my day-to-day work.  It presented an interesting balance concerning the importance of cycle time in regards to the financial and operation spectrum.  It was challenging and thought-provoking.  The group games really brought the concepts to life.  I appreciated the “Velocity Accelerators” discussion that touched on some of the best practices and implementation.  The workshop challenged me to be a better leader in regards to velocity and its importance, as my team and I will be looking for the best ways to apply the concepts to our business model.”  (Jeremy Tesimale, Production/Construction Manager, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“This [Pipeline Workshop™] is one of the best I have ever attended in my 30 years in the homebuilding Industry.  The way [the Pipeline game™ is incorporated] into the learning is fantastic!  This course should be attended by all construction staff of any company.”  (Reed Williams, President, Central Florida Region, Inland Homebuilding Group)

“The Pipeline workshop™ quickly and clearly helped me realize our company’s mismanagement of the amount of work-in-process and job starts.  I believe our new thinking on those principles, along with the techniques we learned, will reduce our cycle times substantially.”  (Bob Anderson, Vice President – Operations, Stylecraft Homes, College Station, TX)

“It is going to help our business refocus on what all of us already know, but lose focus of, in the haste to make money and sell as many homes as possible.  What we have learned will benefit [our] business and margins, if we become disciplined, [and] stick to the principles of the pipeline.”  (Sean Ward, Field Manager, Eagle Construction of Virginia, Richmond, VA)

“[The Pipeline Workshop™] allowed me to step outside of my department and see the industry on a wider scale.  The Pipeline Game™ was a great visual tool that emphasized the importance that velocity plays in home building.  It has allowed me to begin thinking creatively about the ways I can improve my department to ultimately improve our companies velocity overall.”  (Alexa Drees, Design Consultant, Drees Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

“The Pipeline workshop™ was a great chance for my team to learn some excellent fundamentals for a better business in a very straightforward manner.  The instructors were superb, and the overall atmosphere was one of education, fun, and comradery.”  (David Savicki, Purchasing Manager, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“If you are looking for a way to remove status quo from your operations, you need to attend the Pipeline Workshop™.”  (Marisa Clark, Regional Sales Manager, Constellation HB Systems)

[The Pipeline workshop™ was] “eye-opening and thought-provoking.  The topics outlined functional business tools and methods for the current business environment.”  (Ken Colen, President, ON TOP OF THE WORLD Communities, Orlando FL)


Come.  Participate.  Learn.

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on February 28 – March 1, 2018.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  the cost during early registration, open through July 17, 2017, is $750.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group

Sponsored by BUILDER, BuilderMT, and Specitup.

For more details:


Pipeline Workshops™: What Builders Say About It

Posted December 17, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

In their own words, comments – with a couple of exceptions – from builders who have attended a Pipeline workshop™:

“The Pipeline game™ production simulations were a brilliant way to demonstrate and drive home the significance of cycle time improvements and improving trade partner efficiencies on ROA and Net Income.”  (Keith Porterfield, COO, Goodall Homes, Gallatin, TN)

“Pipeline workshops™, through hands-on simulations and classroom instruction, provide excellent learning experiences to see WIP turns at different velocities, and the effects on Return on Assets.  The principles and disciplines, if applied in the field by you as a builder, will increase your ROA.”  (Scott Jagoe, President, Jagoe Homes, Owensboro, KY)

“All of our construction guys came back from the conference with a lot of new info.”  (Doug French, CEO, Stylecraft Builders, Inc., College Station, TX)

“I participated in the first-ever Pipeline workshop™, spending two days exploring the ins-and-outs of production, inventory, and scheduling.  It was quite intense, challenging, and not for the intellectually lazy.  We played repeated rounds of the Pipeline game™, and saw clearly that scheduling requires careful thought and planning.”  (Scott Sedam, President, TrueNorth Development, South Lyon, MI, excerpted from the April, 2014 issue of Professional Builder, “Taming the Chaos”)

“[the] Pipeline workshop™ was by far the most engaging workshop I have attended.  The principles shared relate to homebuilding companies of all shapes and sizes.  The two day program kept me engaged the entire time with a mix of lecture, open discussions and simulations of practical application.  I have already applied some of what I learned to my business, and I am looking forward to fantastic results.”  (Mark Refosco, President, Marcus Allen Homes, Arthur Rutenberg Homes franchisee, Jacksonville, FL)

“I would recommend the Pipeline Workshop™ to anyone interested in improving their homebuilding knowledge.  It offered me a fresh perspective, and got me excited to go back to work to share what I had learned.  10 out of 10].”  (John Marcy, Purchasing Agent, CalAtlantic Homes)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ is an extremely effective insight to production, for homebuilders of all sizes.  Whether your company builds 5, 50, 500 or 5000 units annually, you will leave this event with a deeper understanding of your company’s production capacity, and where you need to focus your attention.”  (Adam Roller, Project Manager, The Fechtel Company, Tampa, FL)

“The simulations at [the] Pipeline workshop™ [were] a very innovative way to demonstrate the critical nature and relationship between cycle time, inventory turn, margin, and Return on assets.  Both days were filled with learning, engagement, and inquiry that proved to be invaluable.”  (Vishaal Gupta, President, Park Square Homes, Orlando, FL)

“Think the same way, and you stay in the same place as everyone else;  challenge yourself with the new theories and strategies, and [you] become more effective in your company[y’s] achievement with your team.  You get to take these theories and teachings and immediately apply them in a simulation of the real world to test your skills against others, and that’s what this business is all about:  finding the right mix of everything to be the best.”  (Justin Parry, President, Parry Custom Homes, Irwin, PA)

“ROA is not discussed much in the building industry;  the focus has always been on margin.  Through the Pipeline workshop™, you will learn that your company ROA is just as important to know as margins per house.”  (Mark Ivey, Owner, Ivey Residential, LLC, Evans, GA)

“I think the concept of ROA or inventory turn can be THE differentiator between success and failure in a production-type environment.  It requires thought one level past the “P&L”, but will allow the manager that can recognize [its] impact and implement it, a major competitive advantage.”  (Wade Jurney, President, Wade Jurney Homes, Greensboro, NC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ provides full insight into the application of universal principles of production.  It provides clear and convincing proof that improving velocity will yield not only faster profits but greater profits.  I look forward to attending it again with some of my key staff.”  (Carlos Alvarez, President, Alvarez Construction, Baton Rouge, LA)

“It proved to be a great opportunity to enlighten our entire management team with a ‘higher level understanding’ of how our business works.”  (Craig Morrison, CEO, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“As an owner of a home building company, intimately understanding the importance of home building production principles, as taught in the Pipeline workshop™ and book, and effectively implementing them in our building processes, will be critically important to becoming a best-of-breed builder in our competitive market.  Running our company using these home building production principles will not only allow us to weather the next downturn intact, but grow in a healthy way.”  (Josh Lysen, Principal, Merit Homes, Kirkland, WA)

“The Pipeline workshop™ conducted by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group was a straight-forward introduction to what matters most in the homebuilding industry…. velocity!  Although many of the concepts reviewed are not new to most managers, the manner in which they were highlighted was eye-opening.  The case study, simulations, and discussion with the instructors made it crystal clear as to how to go back to my operation and implement immediate improvements.  The interaction amongst the diverse group of attendees was also invaluable.  How often do we get the opportunity to discuss best practices with others in our field?  The workshop was time and money well spent, and I’m already getting a return on my investment!”  (Mike Cancilla, General Manager, Essex Homes, SE, Lexington, SC)

“Great opportunity for any individual to uncover the potential of the pipeline and maximize their business returns.”  (Brian Small, Vice President of Land, Blake-Wilder Strategies, Orlando, FL)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ reminded me that there is no substitute for moving quickly and efficiently in every aspect of our business.  The workshop agenda and material was focused and challenging.”  (Greg Stallard, Division President, Essex Homes, Charlotte, NC)

“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)


Come.  Participate.  Learn.

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on February 28 – March 1, 2018.  The cost is $895.00 per person;  the cost during early registration (through December 31, 2017) is $750.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group

Sponsored by BUILDER, BuilderMT, and Specitup.

For more details:


“God with us.”

Posted December 17, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

(an updated version of this post appears on Escape from Averageness® every year, at Christmas)

The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined in the desk chair, put her feet on the desk, and smiled, as she observed the shambles that her almost five-year old son, now almost three-year old daughter, and their younger cousin had made of her consulting firm’s global headquarters.

They were now sprawled on the floor around their grandfather, as he explained the difference between a Marlin Model 1895 .45 70 gov’t and a Ping Eye2 seven iron.

“Hey Boomer, stop trying to turn your granddaughter into a grandson”, she said.

As she swirled her glass of Russian River Valley pinot noir, she acknowledged the hopelessness of maintaining corporate décor this time of the year.  Looking around her home office, she reflected on not being on the road as much;  about being able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in;  about an increasing need for separation between her personal life and her work life, where earlier in her career it seemed to have naturally occurred.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call from an old business friend.  “Kind of late for a work night”, she said.  “How did you know I would still be at the office?”

“I know where your office is”, he said.  “So – are you in your office or are you at home?”

“I am home.”

Home.  Simply, Home.  With the exception of the education session she had to prepare to moderate at IBS in early January, it was the end of meaningful work for the year.

She was looking forward to the break.

“How was 2017?”, he asked.  “And, how are you?”

“No changes to report;  surprisingly, the fam still puts up with me”, she said.  “As for my day job, we’re still not partying like it was 2006, but I will take it.  In terms of client engagements, 2017 was the best year I have had since before the end of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®.

“I have to say, though, the eleventh year of declines from personal peak consulting income was not quite as much fun as the first ten.  I suppose that’s what getting out of six-figure declines and only having to deal with five-figure declines does for you.”

She knew it was her tired attempt at humor, used it too many times, for too many years.

“The book [The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©] continues to resonate, and it drives the growing series of successful Pipeline workshops™.  As you know, the intention of doing production workshops dates back more than 10 years;  hard to believe, but the public, sponsored workshops are now in their fifth year;  and, we are now conducting both the two-day Pipeline workshops™ and one-day Pipeline seminars™ in other channels that we had identified.”

“What about that infill residential piece you told me about, the one you were looking to develop and build-out?”, he asked.

“Still looking”, she answered.  “The first piece didn’t work out.  I haven’t given up.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought for a moment.

“It’s still paying off, the decision I made early-on, to work where I live, instead of live where I work.  I get to host the workshops in an award-winning resort two miles from my house;  the conferences and consulting engagements require travel, but I continue to do most of my work here.

“And – I’ve got this awesome young man and his adorable younger sister that need me.

“Professionally, I am where I want to be;  and, as the housing industry continues to return to what is still an unknown new-normal, I want to turn more of the road work over to colleagues.

“In every way that really matters, I am – we are all – doing very well.”

“That is always good to hear”, her business friend said.  “I hope you have a Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you, my friend.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant ended her call, walked to the fireplace, and placed another log onto the fire.  As she did, the front door opened, and her husband and brother-in-law walked in, back from who knows where.  “Aww!  We’ve missed you guys!  For four and a half hours!”

“Does ‘the other one’ care to join me?”, she asked, nodding to her younger sister.

“Of course”, replied her sister.  “What would ‘the other one’ otherwise do?”

They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the chairs around the pool.  They talked, about things, well-past the content of their wine glasses.  “I think I will go check on the prospects for dinner”, said her sister.  “Can I bring you another glass?”

“Thanks, but not right now.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant looked into the northeast Florida sky on a clear, moonless, star-filled night, and her mind turned completely away from work, and toward family.  She thought about the birth of their two children, recalling the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the huge changes to their lives, the newness each birth had brought.

Her thoughts turned to Christmas, the one almost here and each one previous.

And, she thought about the first Christmas.

She wondered what the tiny town of Bethlehem must have been like that night, so long ago.  She thought about another young mother and father, who had made their trip with few resources, facing an uncertain future.  And, she thought about their soon-to-be-born son;  to everyone else, save a few curious shepherds and a cohort of stargazers from distant eastern places, he was just another child, born in an insignificant city, in a world ruled under the unflinching authority of the Roman Empire.

She considered the character and attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good, the true Lover of her soul.  She thought about grace and mercy.  She thought about the words of the apostle Paul, buried deep in his first letter to the small group of believers in Corinth, describing Faith, Hope, and Love, the principles of the grace she now pondered.

She leaned further back into her chair and closed her eyes.

“Father, thank you for giving me Faith, a Faith that looks back and trusts that the claims this child – Your Son – would one day make about Himself are true, and that each and every moment of time and event of history either points towards, or proceeds from, that truth.

“Not only a Faith in evidence past, but one that also believes in Your triune willingness and ability to manage this world and my part in it.

“Thank you, also, for giving me Hope, a Hope that understands eternity means never-ending, not just somewhere-down-the-road;  thank you for giving me a Hope that looks forward from the perspective of the eternal life I have right now, but also understands that, one day, our lives in this world – with its joy and pain, and partial fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly, eternally, restored in Your presence.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about a final point of gratitude, mindful of all the distractions to purposeful living that daily life presents.

“Even more, thank you for the Love you give me, a Love that that leverages Faith and Hope to sustain me, motivate me, give me purpose, perspective – and resolve that I could never have on my own – until You return, or until You call me Home.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the significance of the full-circle of events that began on that long-ago night.  There was a birth;  there would be a death, a resurrection, an ascension;  between birth and death, there would be an earthly life.

“We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this:  the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-Same Word Who made it in the beginning.”  (On the Incarnation, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, 350 AD).

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”  (John 1:4)

“And you shall call His name Immanuel.”  (Is. 7:14)

“God with us.”