Human Re-Engineering

By Murdoch, Adrian | Management Today, March 1998 | Go to article overview

Human Re-Engineering


Murdoch, Adrian, Management Today


The motto 'no pain, no gain' could have been invented for change management. It's a cliche but it's true.

It has been dubbed 'the Emperor's new clothes', 'reengineering with a human face' and 'outdoor relief for social psychologists', but change management is seen by many as the most painful - yet potentially the most effective - way to improve an organisation. Scott Adams, the writer of the Dilbert cartoon, gives a fairly good indication of what most employees think of it when he notes: 'The goal of change management is to dupe slow-witted employees into thinking that change is good for them by appealing to their sense of adventure and love of challenge. This is like convincing a trout to leap out of a stream to experience the adventure of getting deboned. Trout are not team players.'

Unfortunately, that is rather the point of change management. Organisations have realised that all the structures in the world are of no use if the people implementing them are not convinced of their necessity. The so-called 'movers and shakers' in organisations often miss this point when undertaking the latest in a long line of radical overhauls of their organisation. Douglas Wynn, senior consultant at Deloitte & Touche, points out that it is easier for managers charged with implementing changes 'to focus on structures, as they are concrete. It is easier to draw a chart than change nature.'

Change management means much more than changing the chart. It means changing the nature of an organisation. And this involves people. No one will disagree with Andrew Duncan, senior consultant at Price Waterhouse, when he points out that: 'Retraining and the renewal of the skills set of the workforce was underdone in re-engineering' - now the emphasis of change is far more holistic.

For organisations that fully embrace change management, the pay-offs can be incredible. Some British companies have done it well. Colin Price, head of change at Price Waterhouse, cites Shell, which he says 'did a stunningly good job'. It managed to change its focus from geographic to business lines. In one fell swoop, the red-tape image that headquarters had was removed (albeit through a drastically reduced head count) and a clear message was sent through the company: Similarly, Price suggests that British Aerospace has been a good example of a previously moribund organisation that has given itself a total overhaul.

Even with smaller companies the effects of change management can be dramatic. Gordon Colborn, head of consultants SI Associates, speaks of an initiative he has been involved with - along with two other consultancies - in the north west of England over the last five years. This change management programme, designed to create a quantum leap in the performance of traditional manufacturing in small and medium-sized enterprises has had dramatic effects for some. A third of the SMEs involved had a significant level of performance improvement and were likely to continue to do so. For these companies, fully committed to the programme and motivated by the idea of a change of culture, the magnitudes of improvement were immense.

However, SI Associates readily admits that of the other two-thirds of the SMEs it worked with, half saw only modest improvements, while the other half saw none. Why is the success rate for change management so low? Change management is certainly not easy to implement. It is clear that if you want a change programme to work, an organisation and the people in it must want to change. Colborn says that when first talking to clients, he emphasises that SI Associates itself will not change anything. 'We ask the questions that force them to create the answers,' he says. By saying that to a potential client, he believes he can tell right away the attitudes of senior management and hence their likely success.

The hardest time to accept a need for change is when times are good. Some management thinkers, like Tom Peters, exhort you to create artificial crises in order to push change through. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Re-Engineering
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.