Requirements of IT for Incremental BPR

As hinted by Robert McDowell, Microsoft VP of Information Worker Business Value, in his keynote at Innotech 2010, fear of change is the biggest barrier to productive business process reengineering.

This is why the IT infrastructure must

  • first support and automate the existing process. This avoids knee-jerk wholesale rejection of change. It creates the "early win" that makes an organization receptive to changes.
  • also support the reengineered process. Otherwise, there is no destination for the vehicle that is the IT infrastructure.
  • also support a smooth transition from the existing to the reengineered. Discontinuous transitions are traumatic and destroy good will.
  • also support the transition from the reengineered process to the existing one. The ability to press "undo" makes people more receptive to the risks of change.

The late Michael Hammer, in his seminal Harvard Business Review article on BPR, wrote

Reengineering cannot be planned meticulously and accomplished in small and cautious steps. It's an all-or-nothing proposition with an uncertain result. Still, most companies have no choice but to muster the courage to do it.

I disagree with this statement. Innovation, including process innovation, is less about revolution and more about evolution.

Tags: Business, Philosophy, Reading

Updated at: 6 May 2010 9:05 AM