On Becoming Zen Masters of Quality
Quality New Home Project Managers
Once a week the Bickimer Homes project managers meet to review construction issues in the field. This meeting is mandatory but not for the reasons you might think. Our people are constantly communicating with each other, our subcontractors and suppliers. Our customers’ houses would get built with or without this meeting. Sooo, why have the meetings? Because they are an important part of the process Bickimer Homes employs to attain one universal goal: Quality. These weekly meetings inevitably enhance the quality of the houses we build.
A recent meeting concluded with the rather curious topic of what book, if any, our managers were reading at the time. In this day and age of electronic media overload, it was surprising to hear how many of our managers were reading for enjoyment. One book in particular is worthy of mention: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. How impressive is that? First published in 1974 and deeply philosophical, the subtitle, An Inquiry into Values, gives one the clue that this is not a book for the faint of heart.
As it happens, a good portion of the book explores the meaning and application of the concept of Quality. Pirsig states that a person’s job sooner or later becomes dull. To mitigate the tediousness, that person may for their own satisfaction start to look for ways to improve Quality, “thus making an art out of what he is doing…. He becomes a much more interesting person and much less of an object to the people around him.” Pirsig goes on to say a person’s quality decisions change not only his job, but himself and the people he encounters: “Quality tends to fan out like waves. The Quality job he didn’t think anyone was going to see is seen, and the person who sees it feels a little better because of it, and is likely to pass that feeling on to others.”
Pirsig describes exactly what our project managers are trying to accomplish during our weekly meetings. More than that though, Pirsig’s observations on Quality go to the very core of our Bickimer Homes motto: Building Dreams on a Solid Foundation. Kudos to all our staff who are constantly looking to build a better mouse trap, who are always looking to improve themselves. Our customers don’t have to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to recognize that our Zen Masters of Quality have been at work.