Archive for September, 2019

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)

 

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.

 

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