Routine Standardization (Part 2)

Doug Bellamy / September 2016

Routine Standardization, hereafter referred to as “RS,” means that you’ve made it a habit to make decisions about the decisions that need to be made. Such decisions are made well in advance, before the decision is imminent and in pressing need of being made. No, I’m not trying to be clever nor needlessly redundant. I’m just telling it like it is or at least, as it should be.
Once you come to terms with RS and begin to implement it organizationally, you will continue to discover areas, departments, tasks and or details within those tasks where RS is missing and probably desperately needed.
As I write this, I’m assuming you’ve read the preceding column in last month’s edition. If you haven’t, please do so. It’s easily available on If it’s not worth a few clicks and a little movement of your mouse, you don’t have the fortitude to implement RS in the first place and you might as well just turn the page. For now, just keep reading—but read last month’s column as well.
I was visiting projects about six weeks ago and it occurred to me that we have a specific type of small project we do regularly at the beginning and end of each of our residential projects. A sales office is constructed in garages of one of the models early on in a project and then converted back into a garage once the project is sold out.
While we have made it a routine to standardize 99 percent of that task, we had left out one important component: how long we will take from our start date to our completion date. One could argue that they are all different, a little larger or smaller, complex or simple, and perhaps that’s why we had never nailed down a total time frame. Even so, I completely disagree with such thinking. I believe in RS, and RS requires that we settle on method and time frame. I would much rather make a consistent commitment and manage to that commitment as opposed to having to repeatedly determine what that commitment will be.
I decided then and there and after some discussion with stakeholders that going forward it would be an eight-day turnaround on all future sales offices and or conversions. Why make that decision? First and foremost, it is a decision that we have to make organizationally regularly, and there is always a little time lost in our process and scheduling when we allow it to go willy-nilly as we do this one in nine days and this one in six days and everyone is trying to figure out what we are going to do this time. Consequently, we strive to nail down every detail of every activity for the benefit or ourselves and our customers. Generally that practice is what we have come to call RS.
Although we have gotten some pushback internally and externally over the years, we have settled on RS as the way we approach everything. We have documented standard operating procedures in place, and we regularly review one such process in our biweekly management meetings. Some feel nailing down a specific approach that is consistently “date certain” is restrictive and dangerous because it clearly identifies failure and is somewhat impossible to actually deliver on consistently. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I don’t want you commercial contractors to surmise that this doesn’t or quite simply can’t apply to you and your organization. Don’t succumb to such nonsense. We are working to develop similarly in our commercial division, and I have no doubt that it is completely doable as well as extremely beneficial. In my opinion, you can and should do the same thing. Make decisions about the decisions that inevitably need to be made! Make it a part of your routine to standardize. The sooner, the better.
Don’t allow your organization to struggle in indecisiveness. If you know you’re going to have to decide sooner or later, and especially if it’s something you do repetitively, make the decision now. Implement RS by proactively making the decision before you need to make it again. Yes, you will have to revisit the issue from time to time and make adjustments, but get it done. If your SOP needs translated, get it translated.
Recently, we were named the best rough trade in San Diego by the Building Industry Association in 2015 and interviewed on local TV. We were not merely being compared to other drywall companies. To win this award we had to outperform all rough trades in the BIA. That includes every single trade that precedes drywall, and that says a lot about the way we operate and RS.
I’d like to continue, but I’ve got one page to get this month’s column done and way too much to say. I’ll get back to you in October.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at