A re-engineering “How-To” for Executives
A Book Review, enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz 3/11
One of the co-founders of the re-engineering movement, Michael Hammer has always focused on how companies get things done more than what they need to do. In “Faster, Cheaper, Better”, he and co-author Lisa Hershman, CEO of Hammer and Company (world-leader of business process design, redesign, & education), offer a detailed framework for improving the key processes in a company — the 5 to 10 “end-to-end” processes, from product development to order fulfillment, that bring all the value to the company’s customer.
“End-to-end” are the key words in the authors’ approach. Processes in most companies are fragmented: different people or departments doing different tasks along the process with no real thought given to the efficiency of the entire process. “Most people want to do a good job,” write Hammer and Hershman. “They are given goals and they strive to meet them. They focus intently on doing their job correctly and well, and they are rewarded for their efforts. But few understand how their narrowly defined jobs fit into the overall picture of what the company is trying to accomplish.” Value for the customer is not created by a job, it is created by a series of jobs that together form the end-to-end process, the authors argue.
This focus on end-to-end processes may remind readers of Hammer’s classic reengineering approach in Reengineering the Corporation and with good reason. That book, explained why the end-to-end process was the better way to organize the operations of a company. “Faster, Cheaper, Better” explains how to “harness” the concept to make the company more profitable.
A. Improving Performance
There are, according to the authors, nine levers that companies can use to improve the performance of their end-to-end processes. The first five involve the design and execution of the processes. The authors call these levers “process enablers.” The five process enablers identified by the authors are:
1. Process Design. Companies need to design new end-to-end processes focused on the needs of their customers and eliminate redundancy in the processes.
2. Metrics. Instead of letting each function select its own measures, use customer-focused process measures.
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