Archive for April, 2022

Pipeline Workshop™ No. 17 is in the books, another very successful workshop, completed with a very engaged group of builders and sponsors in attendance.  We will offer, here, a few observations attributed to the most recent class of distinguished – now degreed – Pipeline graduates.

“I realized I know how to build a house, but I have a lot to learn about the business of homebuilding.”  (Travis Kuhlmann, Alvarez Construction)

“The Pipeline is a great class to learn the real science of homebuilding, and how it relates any business.  As a manufactured rep, this class helped increase my knowledge, while also learning how to apply it with everything I do.”  (Ruben Garcia, James Hardie)

“This workshop not only increased my understanding of the homebuilding process, but it challenged the traditional process of construction.  By questioning the status quo, Pipeline Workshops™ will influence companies to explore new ways of accelerating performance, and ultimately drive results to reach new heights.

“The workshop offers attendees a chance to think of their business in ways they likely have not before, and that’s a GREAT thing!”  (Adam King, James Hardie)

“Fletcher, first, I appreciate you and the work that you have created to help [homebuilders] and industry professionals learn the concepts you incorporate into your publications, workshops and mentorship. You make a significant impact on homebuilding!

“There is no perfect company, nor perfect process, to address the many challenges of homebuilding, but learning and implementing the approaches taught in your Pipeline Workshop™ can help advance a builder to the front of the pack, in terms of gaining operational efficiencies and impactful savings across each project.”  (Rita Martin, Epcon Franchising)

“Being an Area Manager spending most of my time in the field, I don’t get involved in the business side of our company very often, so the business case exercises were very helpful and enlightening.”  (Michael Smith, Alvarez Construction)

“The Pipeline workshop™ is a great way to get your team on a good path to have your business be targeted, profitable, and forecastable.”  (Cody Miller, Charis Homes)

 

Future opportunities for higher education . . .

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held October 12-13, 2022, at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Attendance is limited to only 30 attendees.  Early registration will open in early July, when pricing will also be announced.  For team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Delivered by SAI Consulting.  Sponsored by Simpson Strong-Tie.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

“Risen”

Posted April 17, 2022 By Fletcher Groves

(the intrepid, results-based consultant is the main character in both editions of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©;  updated and re-posted on Escape from Averageness® every year, on Easter morning)

The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined into the natural seat, formed at the back edge of one of the dry-eddy pools, where the beach resumed its slope more steeply, toward the upper dunes.

Easter 2022, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

She dug the soles of her topsiders into the sand, still damp from the last high tide.  It always felt good – unfailingly restorative – she thought.  Resting her arms on her knees, she gazed eastward, where the sun was just beginning to rise into a brightening sky with low-lying clouds, on what was a warm mid-April morning in northeast Florida.

She was completely in her element.  A seventh-generation Floridian, she loved the waters and land of her native state.  She wished she could have seen for herself, more of the Florida her father describes – the mid-twentieth century Florida of his youth, the Florida he loves, the Florida with one-tenth the current population, the Florida before air conditioning, interstate highways, and theme parks.

This was her routine, every year, on Easter morning.

She reached over and removed her 35mm SLR from its backpack;  vintage-digital, she mused, recalling how she learned photography old-school, at her father’s insistence, with a manual 35mm camera and Kodak film.  She waited, patiently, until the time was right, and then switched the mode to manual, adjusted the aperture and exposure, partially depressed the shutter and studied the image in her viewfinder.

She made her final adjustments, then released the shutter.  She studied the digital image for a moment, waited several minutes, and then took several more photographs as the sun rose a bit higher.  She set the camera aside.

The intrepid, results-based consultant turned her thoughts back, to a point in time more than two thousand years ago, to the pre-dawn darkness of the first Easter morning, as she tried to reconstruct in her mind what the now disillusioned and despairing friends and followers of Jesus of Nazareth must have been thinking and feeling for the better part of their past two days.

Prophecies notwithstanding, when they went to the grave site on the morning of the third day, what did they really expect to find?  By every rational explanation and every shred of evidence, this man of so much promise, in whom they had placed so much hope, was unquestionably dead.

They had been eyewitnesses to His death, and the effects of the torture and humiliation that preceded it;  the term excruciating, she reminded herself, came from the Latin ex crucis, meaning literally, “out of the cross”.

They had been eyewitnesses to his burial, as well, and the unusually intense security of his tomb.

For the friends and followers of Jesus, this was certainly more than the physical death of one man;  for them, it was the death of all Hope.

Her thoughts moved to another time not far removed from the darkness following the death of Jesus, as Peter and the other apostles asserted that not only had they witnessed His torture, crucifixion, death, and burial, but they had also been the eyewitnesses to His resurrection three days later, and to his subsequent appearances over the following forty days.

Rather than abandoning their faith and succumbing to hopelessness, Peter and the other apostles were now stating – publicly, authoritatively, for everyone to hear – that they were willing to live their lives, to give their lives as martyrs, for the lives of others, and for the Faith and the Hope that Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection gave all of them.

In the words of the apostle Paul, penned later to the churches of Galatia, they were all saying, in essence, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And, the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

That has been the experience of every Christian, ever since, she among them.

She smiled, and whispered, “Risen.”

 

“God’s Kingdom had come, not at the end of time, but within time – and that had changed the texture of both time and history.  History continued, but those shaped by the Easter Effect became the people who knew how history was going to turn out, and because of that, they could live differently.  The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world and to embrace death – as martyrs, if necessary – because they knew, now, that death did not have the final word in the human story.”  (“The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World”, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2018)

Everything – past, present, future – points toward, or proceeds from, the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And, it is the event in which we rejoice, and for which we celebrate, every Easter.

 

Cycle Time: Measured or Calculated?

Posted April 9, 2022 By Fletcher Groves

(initially published on Escape from Averageness® in April 2014;  updated and republished here)

smartandlean.wordpress.com

It is the most basic, most fundamental business premise for any homebuilding enterprise:  the reason the enterprise exists is to make money;  the way the enterprise makes that money is through the value – the benefit in excess of cost – that it delivers to homebuyers and other stakeholders;  that value is delivered by the work the enterprise performs, that work has to be performed in some manner of workflow, and the most common form of workflow is end-to-end sets of activities called processes.

The fact that the work performed in these processes is also what consumes an enterprises’ resources and occupies its capital, means that we need to pay attention to process workflow.  In particular, we need to pay attention to the duration of that workflow, what we term cycle time, because cycle time is one of the operating measures that informs us on improving productivity, on doing more without more, ideally, doing more with less.

In a homebuilding company, the core-critical process – the aorta of value creation – is the operational process known as Start-to-Completion, even though that process should really be managed as part of a portfolio of projects (we insistently make the point that the nature of the workflow in homebuilding, unlike manufacturing, is multi-project management with embedded, surrounding, and supporting processes).  And, regardless of the makeup of the workflow, we know that all of it has duration;  and, we all know that the cycle time of the Start-to-Completion process is the length of time required to build a house, expressed in days.

There are two distinct methods for determining cycle time;  duration can be measured, or it can be calculated.

When it is measured, cycle time reveals the average duration – the statistical mean – of a specified group (range) of houses that were built.  When cycle time is calculated, it expresses the relationship between two important operating measures – the rate of completions and the amount of work-in-process – over a specified time period.

And, while measured cycle time is simply forming an average duration, calculated cycle time falls into the universal category of production physics (Little’s Law).

The measured and calculated versions of cycle time provide important, but very different management perspectives used for very different purposes.  One is about uncovering the forensics of problems, in order to prevent the further recurrence of errors, rework, and waste;  the other is about managing homebuilding production as a system.  They mutually-beneficial, mutually-essential.

In your respective building companies, how do you treat cycle time?  Do you measure it?  Do you calculate it?

How do you use it?

 

Duration and cycle time is a topic exhaustively covered in The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition®, as well as at every Pipeline workshop™.

More information:  saiconsulting.com

 

Settle for Average; Become Extinct.

Posted April 3, 2022 By Fletcher Groves

“Does the world really need any more average homebuilding companies?”

It’s a question we have raised for a decade and a-half, since before the start of the Great Recession.

La Brea Tar Pits

Although the logical answer may be clear, it is hardly a rhetorical question.  What the question points to is a more important question:  What is the antidote to averageness?  How do you achieve sustainable competitive separation?

Sustainable.  Competitive.  Separation.  In more pointed words:  Permanent.  Dominant.  Advantage.

How do you achieve permanent dominant advantage?

Consider also the way we have depicted the question in a scenario we term “Life on the Serengeti”:  What happens to the average lion when there are no longer enough zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests?

 

Average is the road to extinction.

Consider the plight of RB Builders, the mythical homebuilding company portrayed in both editions of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©, facing the world following the end of the halcyon period known as The Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®:

“In many ways, RB Builders was a product of that age, just another homebuilding company satisfied with occasionally adopting other builders’ “best practices”, content to be good, no-better-but-no-worse than the other builders with whom it competed, a building company with a middle-of-the-road approach to delivering the value its homebuyers demanded.  

“The previous 10 years had been good for RB Builders.  But, it was becoming a dangerous approach to business, because – as the saying goes – “the only thing in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos”.  

“It was becoming a homebuilding no-man’s land. 

“Locked into an operating model – into organizational structures, management systems, processes, cultures, and employees – that could not deliver extraordinary levels of distinctive value, the company found itself dumped into a teeming mass of homebuilders that all looked the same, sounded the same, and priced the same.  Indistinguishable from other builders, and unable to create any type of competitive advantage, RB Builders was trapped and sinking – like a modern-day dinosaur – into the tar pits of average-ness.”

For more information and additional resources, to stay out of the tar pits, go to saiconsulting.com