If you've gone to an operations meeting recently, you probably uttered or have heard the word "process" more than once. Typically, you'll hear the question, "what is your process?" I would submit that we change the way we pose this challenge, from "what is your process?" to "show me your process in writing."

Having a proactive approach to process implementation can reduce stress in your operation during periods of growth or rightsizing. Written methods are evergreen and provide your team a road map for today's inconsistent environment.

Survivors face historic turnover, radical market change, and daily uncertainty, which can dilute and extinguish standard operating procedures. During previous years, big builders rallied to create bulletproof processes to meet a rapidly emerging home building landscape. Many of their methods were lost during periods of turnover while others have been forgotten by their displaced creators. Rebuilding a process-deficient operation may seem overwhelming. However, today's home building teams are trained in multiple disciplines. Furthermore, forgotten internal procedures still exist, in writing, if you're willing to search them out.

In a previous life, my team acted to redefine scopes of work for our trade partners. After assuming they did not exist for revision, the team initiated a plan to rebuild from scratch. Only after a strategic recommendation from a team member did they elect to seek information from within the company. After exploring internal archives, they were energized to find what they needed. A complete database of scopes already existed and needed only minor modification. Investing time to work smarter increased the time to market exponentially, saving months of inefficiency. Many companies have immense databases of procedures and training waiting to be resurrected. It is smart to mine these resources rather than reinvent the wheel.

As builders strive to gain traction and increase market share, past solutions may not be proper for current problems.

When the need arises for new methods, allowing your team to lead can have profound results. Teams that personally generate processes have immediate ownership and accountability. Selecting members of your team from each operational discipline to command these efforts can be equally rewarding. It gives your leadership prospects the ability to manage in a group. Lastly, it establishes a project team who can troubleshoot opportunities on the front line.

Unfortunately, many new processes fail within their first 30 days. Too often the momentum of a fresh idea is exhausted by daily priorities and waning communication. Likewise, teams can get discouraged when things seem to get worse before better.

Process meetings update the group on success or opportunities for improvement; and remembering that not all people learn at the same pace will help those who are training the team on a new system. Finally, staying the course and applying positive pressure to new procedures will return habits and produce future time savings.

Waiting for the economy to rebound before one corrects or invents solutions can be devastating to organizational efficiency. Created with good intentions, quick fixes often go unrecorded and aren't consistently reliable. For that reason, only well-documented procedures should be considered complete. Even if you're not a process person by nature, it is your duty to ensure an efficient operation regardless of title or level of authority. Having the foresight to fix holes in your ship?before battle? allows the kind of patience that leads to winning decisions over sinking competition.

BB Jeremy Koster is a director for Lennar Carolinas and may be reached at jkoster@bellsouth.net.