Reengineering Management

When James Champy and Michael Hammer introduced reengineering in 1993’s REENGINEERING THE CORPORATION they made sweeping claims and set big goals for the process. It is therefore surprising (and refreshing) for Champy to open this book with the statement “Reengineering is in trouble.” The first thorough study of reengineering in practice found dramatic results, yet still fell far short of the promised potential.

The earlier book focused on improving business performance by revolutionizing key operational processes—radically changing the way a company’s actual work is done. Experience has shown, however, that reengineering processes will ultimately fail if not accompanied by an equally revolutionary change in management practice.

This is because reengineering entails asking fundamental questions about the business and organization: What is this business for (purpose)? What kind of culture do we want? How do we do our work (process and performance)? What kind of people do we want to work with? Answers to these questions typically involve major changes in what businesses a company chooses to stay in, as well as how the work is organized and performed.

It should come as no surprise that such sweeping changes would require accompanying changes in management practice. Yet Champy relates several cautionary tales demonstrating just how badly the process can fail when work gets reengineered but management does not. Fortunately, the book is also full of success stories: actual managers describe how reengineering has changed their roles, giving equal time to both difficulties and rewards. All in all, REENGINEERING MANAGEMENT is a sane, practical guide for managers engaged in reengineering, or those thinking about it.