In recent years thinking has changed radically about organizational structures. There has been a shift towards flatter, less hierarchical, more aligned organizations that emphasize faster customer response, lower costs and continuous learning. In these conditions of rapidly increasing change, companies require organization structures that facilitate rapid communications, and constant interaction with the business environment.
At the heart of business reengineering lies passionate leadership, customer-focus, and the notion of discontinuous thinking - identifying and abandoning the long-established and outdated rules and fundamental assumptions that underlie current systems and processes. It means asking this question: "If I were to recreate this company today, given what I know, and given current technology, what would it look like?" It involves going back to the beginning and inventing a better way of doing work.
Every company is full of implicit rules left over from earlier decades. Indeed, these rules have been the drivers of the organizational structure that employees work in today. These rules are based on assumptions about technology, people and organizational goals that are generally no longer valid. Consequently, when an organization chooses to change direction based on a new vision of the future, it is no wonder that the existing structures, designed to go a different direction to achieve different results, must be significantly changed.
Many of the tasks that are today being performed in organizations have nothing to do with meeting the customer's needs - that is, creating a product or service of high quality, supplying that product or service at a fair price and providing excellent customer service. Rather, many (if not most) of these tasks are performed simply to satisfy the unquestioned internal demands of an organization (this is the way we've always done it), and/or the idiosyncrasies of people based on past experience (this is what me predecessor did so it must be valid). As the understanding of the benefits of focusing on the customer have became better understood, organizations often have attempted to move in a direction that is diametrically opposed to what their organizational structure will allow, thus conflict, chaos, and failed initiatives ensue.
Business reengineering also means putting aside of over a 100 years of perceived wisdom about what makes an organization work. It means forgetting how work was done successfully in the past, and deciding how best it can be done now and in the future. As a result, an organization needs to organize around a vision and desired outcomes, not tasks and have those who use the output of the process become the drivers in reengineering the structures and processes.
Is reengineering right for your organization? Click here to view the AMA on reengineering and download the self-assessment below.