Business Process Re-engineering Movement

February 2, 2012

The Business Process Re-engineering Movement has recieved a lot of discussion in the last couple of decades. Let’s first define what a movement is, secondly what motivated this movement, and finally how history repeats itself and yet is not always the same. Draw your own conclusion after reading this blog and let me know what you think about the realities of a movement in the workplace that seeks change.

Movements carry out, resist, or undo change.(1) The term movement has certain negatives and positives associated with it. Whether this term is negative or positive is of course based on what the movement is and what the percieved objectives are relative to the individual or group. Movements evolve because there is a need for change. In the case of those businesses that embark upon Business Process Re-engineering the main driver is that there is a need to reduce cost; with competitive pressure, poor customer satisfaction and poor quality of products and services being the other main factors. These top four factors are the root cause of why organizations leadership choose to take on the challenge of a business process re-engineering. (2) These do not seem like concerns that an employee would naturally have. This movement was and will probably always be based on the concerns of leadership.

Unfortunately all too often what happens in a business process re-engnineering effort changes are made to increase profit by levying more responsibility on fewer workers. From what I have experienced the workers that remain, after a reduction in a workforce, have mixed emotions. They are pleased that they didn’t lose their job, and yet they are not pleased that they remain in the same environment with the threat of another “re-engineering effort” on the horizon. This threat is out of their control; when deemed necessary by leadership another so called “re-engineering effort will occur. If it is perceived that leadership initiates re-engineering as a method to increase profit margin at the expense of the employee, workers are not going to embrace it. Who can blame them? This is a basic principle of self preservation, to resist. In order for re-engineering to work there must be little to no resistance to change on behalf of those doing the work. Resistance to change within the organization was cited six times more often than any other as the number one obstacle to successful implementation of business process re-engineering.(2)

In today’s work environment change is desired by some leadership and avoided as much as possible by employees. Do you see a problem? This problem has been going on; Business Process Re-engineering was labeled by some as a movement but it has not been effective for the most part. Actually this movement is nothing new. Back in 1920 re-engineering was was labeled in the business world of that day as “Methods and Procedures Analysis”. (3) In this decade (1920’s), America became the wealthiest country in the world with no obvious rival. In the good times everybody seemed to have a reasonably well paid job and everybody seemed to have a lot of spare cash to spend.(4) As a result of good fortune, in contrast to today’s employee, workers seemed to be willing to embrace the business movement of that time wholeheartedly. More than likely it was embraced back then because there was no fear of lack of money.

In today’s economy the word change is only embraced by those that are struggling. Those that are not struggling hope the struggles don’t come their way and who can blame them. This is called human nature and it will always overrule when it comes to the flight or fight. Those that are not struggling are taking flight and avoiding a Business Process Re-engineering Movement. Most humans seem to see a problem and hope it goes away. Most company’s want change to increase profit and the employees hope that leadership will not involve them in the process. In retrospect no change plan was ever published which showed a due date for change. What do you think?

By Cedric Matthews


(1) Wikipedia – Social movement

(2) 327 Organizations Share Lessons Learned in business process design

(3) The Roots Of Business Process Reengineering

(4) America in the 1920’s


One Response to “Business Process Re-engineering Movement”

  1. David George said

    I see your point with the employee resistance to change. This can be mitigated though with a good communication plan from someone the employees trust. It seems like a lot of times the companies bring in consultants and that leads to fear and uncertainty among the employees. Maybe if companies used the resources from within to champion the changes they would be more successful. Just a thought.

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