Everybody has his or her own way of doing something. But, Chris Donatelli says, when you're trying to systematize, this kind of idiosyncratic behavior can lead to inefficiency and confusion. “Our way isn't the only way,” Donatelli says about him and his partner Tony Castillo, “but we're selling a particular product and a particular standard,” so there needs to be consensus on method.

Donatelli Castillo Builders, San Jose, Calif., began offering classes on everything from protection during demolition to cabinet installation, foundational layout, and floor and wall framing. “We have people who've been doing carpentry since birth and some just starting out. This gives them an avenue to share their knowledge.”

In fact, he cites this as one of the biggest benefits. He's proud that Bruce Butler, one of the lead carpenters, will teach a class on rafter layout. “It's not like none of us know how to cut rafters,” Donatelli says, “but Bruce has taken the initiative to put it together, and I want to encourage that.”

The staff enjoy the 15- to 30-minute bimonthly classes, nicknamed “The DC Way.” The morning of the class, they eat breakfast together, participate in safety training, and, afterward, receive their checks.