Reengineering the Corporation

The most widely publicized recent approach to reinventing organizations is the practice of ‘reengineering the corporation. Reengineering involves a significant reassessment of what a particular organization is all about. Managers are urged to ask a very basic question about what they do: If they were re-creating this company today, given what they know and given current technology what would it look like? In other words managers should imagine that they are starting with a clean piece of paper.

Organizations can tend to stagnate when organizational members including managers focus on their own immediate neighborhoods such as their jobs and departments rather than on the larger patterns of relationships in which they work and influence the lives of others. Reengineering thus involves redefining processes as patterns of relationships connecting organizational member with people outside the organization. Experts present many examples of organizations that have reengineered simple organizational tasks such as processing a customer’s order that used to take weeks, even months to do. Reengineering becomes necessary when, despite the fact that individual jobs are well defined and well performed, the some effect on other people of those efforts is inefficiently for the organization and unsatisfactory or customers and others.

According to experienced reengineering proffessionals, Reengineering means radically rethinking and redesigning those processes by which we create value (for customers) and do work. Speed quality of service and overhead costs are listed as today’s important competitive issues that reengineering can address. Aetna Life and Casualty, Taco Bell, and AT&T are just a few of the companies It is pointed out the companies’ leaders have gone out on a limb to say, this cannot stand! We must do it differently. It is argued, the Hallmark of a really successful company is its willingness to abandon what has been successful in the past. There is no such thing as a permanently winning formula.

As a college student, you can probably think of administrative processes at colleges and universities that might need a reengineering analysis. Suppose that it took you days and days to get the necessary signatures for something like taking a course overload in a semester, or studying abroad or declaring a double major. Despite the fact that each approval, considered separately might make perfect sense, a reengineering project could make life a lot more productive for all concerned.

In fact, administrators at many colleges and universities have conducted what amount to reengineering projects to put together the complex orientation program for first year students. Orientation involves everything from and everyone concerned with registering for the first semester of classes to receiving instructions about social regulations on campus. Thinking about how to ensure the coherence efficiency, and effectiveness of orientation is quite a task and thinking this way about the entire process is the hallmark of reengineering.

Reengineering implies that organizations are shifting patterns of relationships, not fixed entities like machine and buildings. Tom Peters, co-author of the best selling In search of Excellence has studied dozens of cases where organizational members are empowered to create new ideas and products and relationship. That empowerment, which he calls liberation management, comes from flexible organizations and, more importantly, a management attitude biased toward creative human efforts. About the frenzied pace of modern competition, Peters writes, Those who would survive managers and non-managers alike, will simply have it make their own firm create their own projects. Many managers, relate pay attention to reinventing their organizations everyday.