Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the homebuilding industry as well as construction engineer, site manager and in training, auditing and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental and safety management awards for clients.

Denis is co-author of 'The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence'.

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Losing money every day

While Quality tools and techniques have been around for a long time and proven their worth I still see and hear situations that amaze me. For example a trade embraced quality and created checklists, inspection points, tracked problems, eliminated root causes meaning that fewer defects and call backs were occurring. This resulted in cost savings and improved customer satisfaction for his business. With pride therefore he described his approach to a new contractor he was seeking work from. ‘The contractor took my inspection list from me and tore it up in my face.’ Now that’s sending a message! With that sort of attitude why would a trade care about doing a good job and being innovative about ensuring that work was done right the first time.

Teams from two businesses worked together on creating a production schedule. By doing this they came up with a timeline that they were both comfortable with and which was actually faster than either had originally thought possible. A new person on one of the teams then said, ‘so now let’s add a day to go back and fix everything.’ He was serious! That’s how he had always seen things done in all his years in the industry. ‘We don’t do that here, we do it right throughout the process’ said his new colleagues. The mindset that you take an entire day to fix all the things that went wrong during the process is very costly but seen as how you do business to so many.

The above examples show provide an insight into how much money is being lost on the job every day. Those that ‘get it’ realize the impact Quality can create. One businessman that has now seen what quality has done for his business looked back to the time before he used quality and said ‘despite how successful I was, I now look back and wonder about how much I was losing’.

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