The usual reengineering process advised by management consultants starts with the preamble that the company must discard the existing structure lock, stock, and barrel. However, in reality the exercise is only to find out what is preventing the organisation from functioning effectively. And towards this, reengineering attempts to de-bottleneck the system.The process is concerned with some basic issues: How to improve current economic status and business value? How to reinforce strengths, and eliminate weaknesses? How to make the system more viable, cost-effective, and result-oriented? How to focus on the needs of stakeholders employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders? A typical reengineering project begins with the formation of a composite team, usually of Young Turks, from different departments. In effect, the members will constitute a cross-functional team. Eventually, the experience and exposure gained from this project will groom them into a kind of top management group-in-waiting, including the heir apparent to the corporate throne.

Now, this raises an irksome issue. What of the senior mangers who have been with the company from its inception. Does the company throw away the baby with the bath water? Will that not mean wiping out an entire generation of experience?

Some companies retain them in an advisory capacity for a while, such that they act as mentors to the newcomers in the top echelon. They are also given their full retirement benefits plus a handsome gratuity, apart from their normal eligibility. The architects of reengineering would do well to remember that they carry a major responsibility in this regard.

Another feature of reengineering occurs whenever a new incumbent is invited to take the top slot. Some of them carry in their minds maps of their erstwhile organisations. In spite of having a free hand, they prefer to tread the known path. Quite often this is done in such a mindless and frenetic fashion that they even appoint a whole team of employees from their previous company.

R. Devarajan

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 31, 2006)
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