52 Books a Year: #35 - Reengineering the Corporation

Posted by Brian Wed, 16 Dec 2009 02:39:00 GMT

Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution
By Michael Hammer and James Champy


Reengineering is a fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in cost, quality, speed, and service.

I often get annoyed at work at the way the business analysts do things and since there is no chance of them meeting me on my ground, I decided to work on meeting them on theirs. With that in mind I went to the library and picked up Reengineering the Corporation, which lays out the case for making drastic changes to how your company works instead of small incremental changes. This is different from the model where I work (we follow kaizen), but you have to start somewhere.

I was surprised at the lack of worthless corporate speak here. Hammer and Champy have a serious case to make and they aren’t wasting time telling you how to synergize your data flows to maximize mindshare. They laugh at the idea of a corporate value statement. The crux of their argument is that it is only by being willing to throw away your preconceptions of how the work should be done can you truly optimize the process. If you try to make the changes incrementally you never take the leap that is necessary to streamline it. Basically, if it isn’t disruptive then you aren’t doing it right. They make the case for putting back together the pieces that Adam Smith and Henry Ford took apart and putting them back together, transforming task-based jobs into process-based jobs. Unnecessary fragmentation leads to inefficiencies in the form of rework and errors.

Some statements were made that appeals to the coder in me. The only one that I have in my notes though is that people outside of a process should only care about the the input and the output. They shouldn’t care about how it is done. Any programmers out there should realize this is simply encapsulation. For business guys these fellows aren’t too bad.

Reengineering does not cover actually implementing one of these efforts. As the title says it is a manifesto for why you would want to do this. High level issues are covered, such as roles and stages, but nothing concrete. Case studies are sprinkled throughout the text and that those do the job well enough.

I read this book to start to get a perspective of everything going on at work from the analysts point of view. That goal was fulfilled fairly well. Time to move on to some others.

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