Beyond the Basics of Reengineering: Survival Tactics for the '90S

Research-Technology Management, November/December 1994 | Go to article overview

Beyond the Basics of Reengineering: Survival Tactics for the '90S


Business process reengineering (BPR) has been defined by its creator, Michael Hammer, as "the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business process to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service and speed." As many organizations have discovered from their own reengineering efforts, this entails an evolving strategy rather than a single methodology. For this reason, Beyond the Basics of Reengineering examines reengineering efforts of 11 leading manufacturing and service organizations.

Eastman Kodak's reengineering methodology is used as the foundation of the book. Initiated in 1992, Kodak's was the first BPR project to use the formal methodology as introduced by Hammer in 1990. The step-by-step case study of Kodak, which outlines that organization's very specific methodology, is written by members of the Kodak Reengineering Center for Excellence. They conclude their account with a summary of "some of the lessons Kodak learned the hard way":

* "Lack of strong leadership will kill a reengineering project. Maybe not right away, but slowly, painfully.

* "Incrementalism in the design process will lead to a result that is probably better than the current state but inadequate to meet the objectives stated in the case for action. To avoid incrementalism do not start with what exists, but rather with a clean sheet.

* "Inadequate attention to the people side of reengineering will undermine the most elegant redesign. This lesson is hard to grasp because there are so many ways to go wrong (e.g., starting too late, stopping too soon, insufficient frequency, inconsistency, inappropriate timing, one-way communication vehicles that don't allow for feedback, etc. …

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