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October 07 Businessexcellence 35 else. So we set up a system that incentivizes people to share information and analyze it in a way that benefits the entire company. We have created a pay for performance system that incentivizes this openness instead of what is typical of the industry, where everybody keeps things close to their chest. It has been very successful for us.” This kind of proactive management is fundamental to Ball’s approach, but he prefers not to hang any cute labels on it. It’s just good business. “You have to manage people on a daily basis,” he says, not stay in your offi ce for a year and criticize someone’s performance at the annual review. “Telling someone if they are doing a good job or not needs to happen every single day. You have to explain in a positive way exactly what your expectation is, how that is going to improve performance and what the outcome will be. You can’t hide the truth or you won’t get the results you want, and then you have no one to blame but yourself as a manager. “I don’t think what we’re doing is lean,” he continues. “It’s just good business and the practices that we follow in the fi eld refl ect our desire to be really good builders and to make a really good job of what we are doing. We try to get as much innovation as we can possibly use in a responsible way. We push that into our product and I really believe that building information modeling is the way for the future.” The hardware is in place, says Ball, but the software needs further development before building information modeling can begin to pay dividends. There is no common platform yet, so there are issues of compatibility between different users’ systems. There are also issues around responsibility. If everyone lays his piece of the suit on the same mannequin, and something doesn’t work, who is responsible for the failure when all parties are interdependent? These things can all be worked out, he believes, but the biggest challenge, as always, is convincing people to change. “When people are used to doing something in a certain way, it falls back on the managers,” he says. “This is well out of anybody’s comfort zone. It’s foreign to them. They have to take more time to fi gure out the new system. Getting people to change and implement new procedures is the greatest battle. They don’t want to change. So we make sure we have the training so that everyone understands that this is going to be of benefi t to them, and maybe you have to take one step back now but we’ll be able to take two steps forward tomorrow, and ten steps forward the next day. A week or a month out from now you’ll look back and be amazed at the amount of progress you’ve made.” “Why aren’t we building a suit on one mannequin instead of having 120 different mannequins with one having a sleeve on it, one having a collar on it, and another having a cuff on it? It’s crazy, but that’s how the industry does it today” WebcorBuilders