Posted by: JC Gatlin | December 12, 2010

Yes, we still have Time Honored Traditions

It’s frustrating. No matter how many standards we document, how many processes we map, we still get blindsided by that phrase, “Well, even if it’s not documented, that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

We call all those undocumented standards our “Time Honored Traditions.” It’s the way a process has always been performed or executed, and the knowledge was probably passed verbally from Teammate to Teammate. Since our company was established 22 years ago and built on 3 generations of family homebuilding knowledge, experience and values, we have tremendous volumes of Time Honored Traditions supporting us.  

Four years ago, when we began our Lean Journey, we took the task of documenting these unwritten standards. Now we’ve created some 412 Construction, Production, Sales, Leadership and Accounting Standardized Work Instruction Sheets, 21 Value Stream Maps, and a solid foundation of System Standards. But documenting 22 years worth of best practices will take time. That history has its place in our culture and must be respected. And ultimately must be documented.

Our consultants have said that it takes 40 years to fully transition into a Lean Company (10 years for “P,” 10 years for “D,” 10 years for “C,” 10 years for “A”). We’re 4 years into it. But, we’re in it for the long haul.

© December 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. The value of sharing and communicating these “learned lessons” can be the difference between total project success and missing key milestones and project delay.

    In the building industry, our current projects have similar components and attributes as the company’s previous projects throughout the years. This means that documenting and providing accessibility to these traditions must be done in order to assist teammates on future and existing projects, and to ensure that the same mistakes don’t happen twice.

    With that enterprise averaging over 400 S.W.I.S.’ a year, it is a great sign that these knowledge gained experiences are going to become a wonderfully-helpful resource.

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