One of the common reasons for reengineering
failures is caused by the inability of the organization to manage
change effectively. There will be tremendous resistance to change
from key people at all levels who will be affected by it. These
people are usually worried about losing their power base or even
their jobs, uncomfortable with the ambiguity of the new ways of
doing business, and cynical from past failures. Good ideas do not
implement themselves. To overcome organizational resistance and
inertia, managers of reengineering need to meticulously plan the
organizational change campaign. To make reengineering happen, the
"soft" human resource issues need to become hard—with
clear goals, steps, measurements and outcomes.5 To be
successful at reengineering, the organization must anticipate the
resistance beforehand, and know how to defuse it by gaining the
trust and backing of key individuals who will play major roles in
the new process. These change management activities must run in
parallel through all phases of the reengineering effort.
Managing Stakeholder Resistance
Stakeholders include people affected by the
radical change in the business process—the CEO, senior management
teams, middle management, and the "owners" of the
process to be reengineered. Early activities for managing
stakeholders include mapping the roles of all affected players in
the organization. Executives must respond to sources of resistance
that emerge at various phases.
During the mobilization and diagnosis phases,
skepticism and fear occurs at all levels of the organization.
Resistance usually takes the form of dismissal and denial. Frequent
communication with the stakeholders is mandatory to address such
During the redesign phase, resistance becomes more intense as
the new processes are being designed. Middle management shows a
greater deal of resistance at this stage because their jobs are
being threatened by new management
structures and empowerment to front-line workers. During this
stage, resistance takes the form of rejection.
During the transition phase, resistance comes
from all levels. By this time the organization may be losing the
steam to complete the effort. Several roadblocks will be thrown to
abort the effort from various levels. Senior executives' role at
this time is very critical. Since reengineering activities cut
across organizational and functional boundaries, accountability
for development, testing and implementation must be clearly defined.
The Role of Communications
One cannot over communicate during reengineering;
it requires constant communication at all levels. Communications
campaign must be designed early in the reengineering process.
Specific company events have to be leveraged, such as employee
quarterly meetings, staff meetings, executive briefing sessions etc.
Communications must come from the top. Several companies have
successfully published reengineering newsletters. Many companies see
this as a "make it, or break it" program that is of
strategic importance to the enterprise.
Communication breakdowns occur for many reasons.
One of the more common reasons is that the need for change is
unknown. Executives tend to overestimate the capacity of the
organization to understand and accept the need to change.
Reengineering is here to stay. Age old practices are not
applicable anymore in today's world which is getting increasingly
"connected" with powerful information technology en
abler s. Companies will have to undertake serious reengineering to
reap the hard work they have put in over the past decade with
continuous improvement initiatives within manufacturing. These
companies realize that there is greater potential in integrating
various processes to deliver their products and services effectively
and profitably to the ultimate customer. Reengineering, however,
is very painful. Organizational stamina and focus backed by strong
will and executive leadership is a necessary ingredient. By
understanding what reengineering entails and getting prepared and
organized for the venture, we can ensure a higher probability of
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