By Williams, J. Clifton | Baylor Business Review, Spring 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project


Williams, J. Clifton, Baylor Business Review

Most managers can see flaws in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But equally flawed is the science of "muddling through" in which decisions deviate as little as possible from the traditional tried and true. Our competitors, especially those on the other side of the world, typically carry little baggage of outdated policies. Such firms bring us new, radically improved perspectives. To be competitive we too must learn the art of radically divergent thinking.


A relatively new management term, reegineering is best explained in Reengineering the Corporation by Michael Hammer and James Champy (HarperBusiness, 1993). To describe what reengineering is, the authors talk about what it is not. It is not another quick fix or Japanese transplant. It is not another word for downsizing or restructuring. It is not an extrapolation from the accumulated wisdom of the centuries. It is instead a radical, discontinuous rethinking about how to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities. It rejects sacrosanct assumptions and starts over to redesign organizations and processes. It is about reinvention rather than improvement.


Hammer and Champy seem less concerned with teaching how to reengineer than with demonstrating its virtues. They describe, for example, how IBM Credit Corporation reengineered the process for approving customer credit. Originally, when a request was called in, the first of 5 steps began with a member of the receiving group in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, who wrote the information down on a piece of paper. It was then bounced from department to department for up to 2 weeks while the sales rep frantically tried not to lose the sale. While the entire process actually took only 90 minutes of work, the application spent the remainder of the time in someone's basket. Reengineering in this situation meant replacing several specialists (credit checkers, pricers, etc.) with a single generalist who processed the whole application, usually in about 4 hours.

As in many instances of reengineering, the old way was based on assumptions that may have been valid once but had become disastrously impractical in the face of new technologies and intense competition.

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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

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

Cited article



Text size Smaller Larger
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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?