In the broadest sense of the term, we want to see BuilderVelocity™ become an industry movement.

We want the members of this movement to be the forward-thinking participants in the homebuilding supply chain, the concerned, connected members of the new home construction value stream, coming together to unravel traditional industry best practices and challenge conventional industry thinking, in order to create sustainable competitive separation for their homebuilding enterprises.

In embracing BuilderVelocity™, there is an acknowledgement that sustainable competitive separation is achieved by doing what your competition will not do, what your competition cannot do, by doing things that are too tough, too forward, that require too much rigor, too much discipline, too much resolve;  sustainable competitive separation reached only by doing the hard work to achieve operational excellence on the velocity side of Return on Assets.

What is BuilderVelocity™?  Why is it relevant to builders?  Why is it essential?

BuilderVelocity™ is a way of thinking about production management;  it is a systems-focused thinking process for managing production.  It expresses the principles and disciplines of production management in terms that reflect the unique characteristics – and the particular requirements and context – of residential construction.  It is an industry-specific application of the universal principles and disciplines underlying production management, physics rooted in the laws that govern all production systems.  It is about using – merging when necessary – the production management tools that work for homebuilding, without regard to the consulting religion from which they come.

BuilderVelocity creates a visual image of homebuilding production that connects operating performance to business outcomes;  BuilderVelocity™ enables builders to “see” production from a different perspective, it enables builders to see production from a ”more-without-more” mental model, perhaps even a “more-for-less” mental model:  more revenue, more closings, in less time, with less work-in-process, and less overhead.

BuilderVelocity treats workflow associated with homebuilding for what it isproject portfolio management (multi-project management) with embedded, supporting, and surrounding processes and procedures.

BuilderVelocity™ addresses production management as a system, and it aims to increase the productivity of that system (not the size of the system) by maximizing the closings and Revenue it generates with a planned, finite, and controlled level of work-in-process and capacity, with less waste and less variation;  it establishes velocity accelerators – a set of actions that increase productivity.

BuilderVelocity™ flows from the best book on the subject.  The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition© tells the story of how RB Builders learned the principles of homebuilding production in the turbulent years following the end of the halcyon period known as the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®.  The Pipeline is a story told in the exchanges of dialog between RB Builders’ team members, senior management, and its trusted, results-based consultant.

BuilderVelocity™ is also the namesake of the event management website (www.buildervelocity.com) for the Pipeline workshops, the series of open, sponsored (and other channeled) two-day workshops and one-day seminars on production management developed by SAI Consulting, Inc.

Pipeline workshops™ are designed to transfer in-depth knowledge and create an intuitive, instinctive understanding of production principles and disciplines, focused specifically on homebuilding production management.  They are not a lecture series.  They make extensive use of a proprietary business case and management exercises.  The material is comprehensive, the learning is intense, the format is interactive and competitive.

Pipeline workshops™ use a progressive series of production scenarios, known as Pipeline games™, that simulate homebuilding production in the real business world, in an environment of variation and uncertainty, where operating decisions produce economic results – sometimes meeting expectations, rarely exceeding them, oft-times falling well short.

Pipeline games™ are both a production simulator and a business game;  the games are completely unique in the approach they use;  they significantly shorten the learning curve.

And, finally, BuilderVelocity™ is a LinkedIn forum.  It is a group for those charged with the responsibility of managing – or managing the interaction with – production as a system, at some level of a homebuilding enterprise.  It is a source of knowledge for those charged with driving results.  It is a group that asks builders to participate, to share knowledge, to challenge ideas, to ask questions, to use their voice.  It will be what its members make it.

Join the movement.  Join us at a Pipeline workshop™.  Read the book (it is always carried in-stock on amazon.com, and is usually available online from the other bookseller sites).  Join the BuilderVelocity™ group on LinkedIn;  contribute to the discussion.

Join.  Participate.  Learn.

Request to join the group:  BuilderVelocity on LinkedIn

Register for a workshop (when registration is open):  Pipeline Workshops at buildervelocity.com

Purchase the book on Amazon:  The Pipeline book

 

      

Lessons from the Business Process Improvement Graveyard

Posted March 28, 2020 By Fletcher Groves

As a management consultant, there are times when you should go with your instinct, and walk away from consulting engagements that cannot work the way you expected and intended.  The cases when you knew better than to take an engagement with the questionable approach emerging from its preliminary discussions.  The cases when you should have realized that the client was not listening to what was clearly being said.

Precisely the situation involved with two unrelated Business Process Improvement engagements we took on within the past year, both on behalf of homebuilding companies that had approached us seeking assistance.

The first case was that of a large production builder (1,000+ homes a year, operating as a “collective” of three completely different building operations across parts of four states), a company to which we presented a spectrum of possible alternatives, a company which nevertheless insisted that its processes be mapped – be documented, improved, and published – to reflect a single, imposed business operating model on which no consensus had been created, a SHOULD-BE (future) state designed without any of the insight and understanding that would have naturally come from first mapping an AS-IS (current) state, all with a three month completion deadline.

The second case was that of another production builder, this one with a single interest regarding its processes.  It wanted to document and redesign a niche’ lot acquisition process, do it over the course of a single, combined three-day onsite meeting, and publish it in one month – a process mapping initiative typically performed on multiple processes in two, separate, three-day, onsite stages (AS-IS and SHOULD-BE) over a three to four month period.

In fact, when we wrote the engagement letters, we went so far as to characterize the requested approaches as “unorthodox” and “unprecedented”, in stating our concerns.

We should have paid more attention to the warning signs, but nothing in our 25+ years of consulting experience prepared us for what happened on these two engagements.  There had been dozens of previous process mapping engagements, all conducted successfully, over nearly three decades.  Both of the engagements described here had been thoroughly discussed, clearly defined, concerns raised with the client, in detail, before the engagements started.

In both cases, the root cause of the problem – what unwound the engagement – was the unwillingness on the part of the client to accept how business process mapping works, an unwillingness to listen or accept advice, coupled (in one case) with an insistence to take shortcuts and compromise results, in order to save time and money.

A major contributing factor on one of the engagements was the client’s abject failure to meet the known, given requirement of providing a prepared team that could manage the schedule, a matter we can prescribe, have to presume, but cannot control.

In retrospect, we did not agree with these approaches, nor recommend them, and we should not have accommodated them.  We delivered the work product exactly as specified, but these projects, in our view, were not successful;  they did not proceed forward as anticipated.  We will not repeat the mistake.  We would like other builders to hear this, to pay heed, to avoid similar mistakes if they ever choose to address their business processes.

But, first, let me say this:

Those of you who know me, know that I do not make a practice of promoting the capability or expertise of SAI Consulting on the pages of this weblog.  However, when it is advice that is being offered, it is different than offering an opinion or viewpoint, and it carries a requirement that whoever is offering the advice documents that he actually knows what he is talking about.

With that requirement in mind, when it comes to the documentation, analysis, measurement, design and redesign, improvement, and management of operating and business processes, SAI Consulting is the homebuilding industry’s leading expert.  We have done it longer, and we have done more of it, than any other consulting firm serving this industry.

It is our tour de force.

It is the area for which we are most recognized.  Virtually every consulting engagement we have ever accepted, in-or-out of homebuilding, has dealt – in some way – with how a client structures itself around its core-critical business processes.  And – we have provided this same insight and advice to others on hundreds of occasions.

Before the creation of the National Housing Quality (NHQ) Award, then-Service and Administrative Institute (SAI) was already assisting Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winners in their efforts to refocus, restructure, and redesign their business operations around their processes.  Before there was any interest in the homebuilding industry in the documentation and management of business and operating processes, we were already recognized experts in that field.

Our process toolbox is the best in the industry.  We pioneered the development of many of the tools and techniques we use in this area.  We are a consulting partner with iGrafx, which has some of the most advanced process flowcharting and modeling software available;  we know, because we participated in a part of its development.

We are adept, or at least familiar, with every form of process documentation, including cross-functional flowcharting, value stream mapping, IDEF0 process modeling, and Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN).  We know the methodologies – Total Quality Management (TQM), Business Process Improvement (BPI), Process Reengineering, Lean-Six Sigma (LSS), Theory of Constraints (TOC), and Lean/TPS – that act upon those documentation methods.

I am currently writing another business novel, in the tradition of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©, that will be titled something like “Horizontal” (and sub-titled along the lines of “the workflow perspective that underlies the fundamental business proposition of every homebuilding company”).  Guess the subject matter?  Not surprisingly, it is Business Process Improvement.

Processes are important.  Business Process Improvement is important.

There is a reason for the centrality of business processes.  When you talk about an enterprise, whether it is a homebuilding company or a company in some other industry vertical, the most basic proposition of that enterprise – the reason for its existence, the way it makes money – is through the value that it delivers to customers and other stakeholders.  That value is only delivered by the work that the enterprise performs, that work has to be performed in some manner of workflow, and the most common form of that workflow is the work performed in processes.

Processes exist, whether enterprises are intentional about them or not.  Processes are important.  They are critical.

Lessons from the BPI graveyard, advice to clients:

  1. Listen to the experts, and do what they say.
  2. Let the current (AS-IS) state provide the perspective for the future (SHOULD-BE) state.
  3. Commit to a specific business operating model before you design the process.
  4. Don’t cut corners. Invest the time, money, and effort that process mapping requires.
  5. Get agreement and buy-in – win the commitment – from stakeholders.

If you have any questions or observations, please feel free to contact me:

 

      

Stockdale, Krantz, and the AKAPEPCOTU

Posted March 22, 2020 By Fletcher Groves

As you continue to confront the danger, disruption, and uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic . . . some words of wisdom and hope:

Admiral James Stockdale (1923-2005), Vice Admiral, USN, Medal of Honor recipient, longest serving prisoner of war in the Vietnam War:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

Gene Krantz (1933-), NASA Senior Flight Director, during the Apollo 13 lunar mission:

“Let’s work the problem, people.”

AKAPEPCOTU (the All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Ever-Present Creator of the Universe):

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”  (Isaiah 26: 3-4)

Confront the brutal facts of your current reality, without ever losing faith that you will prevail in the ultimate outcome.  Solve the root cause of the problem, don’t treat its symptoms.  Know where you stand with Who stands before you.

 

      

COVID-19: Learning in the Midst of the Storm

Posted March 18, 2020 By Fletcher Groves

If you are a homebuilder, the COVID-19 pandemic is impairing – or will impair – your ability to access the consulting resources you depend upon to drive improvement efforts.

Your consulting resources cannot easily travel to you;  you cannot readily travel to your consulting resources, or to their events.  Consequently, there is now a lot of talk about holding virtual events (to wit, Lean Enterprise Institute is now planning to conduct its entire annual Lean Summit on a virtual basis).

That approach is possible for a conference that is a presentation or lecture, where information presented is essentially a one-way street.  That approach is not possible for consultants that have to help individual clients extract and process information and thought, especially when it involves cross-functional teams dealing with complex, cause-and-effect issues.

It is also impossible for certain events, like Pipeline workshops™, that are, by nature, interactive, competitive, and team-based.

We are SAI Consulting.  The vast majority of our clients are homebuilding enterprises, and we primarily work with those clients in ways that enable them to thrive on the velocity side of economic return, to thrive on the velocity side of Return on Assets.

In the midst of this challenge, we want to continue to provide knowledge and insight into our areas of expertise, like business process improvement, critical chain portfolio management, production principles and disciplines, team-based performance compensation and open-book management.

www.saiconsulting.com

The SAI website is content-rich, by design and intent.  Rather than host a vanity site to promote ourselves, we choose to share and provide real, useful information.  It is about approach, method, and thinking;  the SAI Library has downloadable files of every article we have ever published, and many of the presentations we have made.

On the website, you can order the book (The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production Second Edition©).  You can check out the Pipeline Workshop™.  You can read the weblog (Escape from Averageness®).  You can join the BuilderVelocity discussion on LinkedIn.

You can see who we have worked for and what they have to say about it.

In the midst of the storm, you can continue to learn.

 

      

Following lengthy discussions about the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to cancel the upcoming Pipeline Workshop™.  It was a decision arrived at by all of the parties concerned.  It was a picture of what we call Epic Partnering™.

In a Pipeline workshop™, we have a Velocity Accelerator®, titled Epic Partnering™, in which we unpack a process and program for progressively transforming subcontractors, suppliers, and builders into true partners, into trusted allies, joined by shared, mutual interests.

The decision to act upon the reality imposed by this global epidemic, the decision to either postpone or cancel the upcoming Pipeline Workshop™ No. 13,  was a picture of epic-level partnering based on shared, mutual interests.  Credit goes to everyone involved:

  • Builders who were registered to attend, like Visionary Homes, who made rational, informed decisions about the danger of putting their teammates on airplanes, and worked diligently at alternatives.
  • Sponsors, Specitup and Simpson Strong-Tie, that let their investments ride and sought the best outcome to a difficult situation.
  • The venue, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, that weighed the situation, and graciously and proactively offered to reschedule the event, without enforcing any of its rights.

Everything now moves, intact and preserved, to either the next open, sponsored workshop, Pipeline Workshop™ No. 14, already scheduled for October 21-22, 2020, at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, or to private channel Pipeline Workshops™.

Thanks to everyone involved.  The most intense, demanding, interactive, and challenging homebuilding production management learning experience on the planet moves forward.

Join us.

 

Delivered by SAI Consulting.  Sponsored by Specitup and Simpson Strong-Tie.  Stay tuned for upcoming details:  www.buildervelocity.com