Many experts are still predicting gloom and doom for the economy, and many business leaders are falling victim to their prognosis, which is fast becoming a self fulfilling prophecy for those companies who are unfortunate enough to be lead by those leaders. They seem to be waiting for government to bail them out or just wringing their hands in utter despair. We will only rise out of this recession when individual leaders become committed to re-invigorating their companies.

The reinvigoration process stems from business process reengineering (BPR), which began as a private sector technique to help organizations fundamentally rethink how they do their work in order to dramatically improve customer service, cut operational costs, and become world-class competitors. Business everywhere have lost sight of the need for the continuing development and deployment of business process reengineering and improved organizational structures to support new and innovative process improvements.

Business process reengineering is an effective approach for redesigning the way work is done to better support the organization’s mission and reduce costs. Reengineering starts with a high-level assessment of the organization’s mission, strategic goals, and customer needs. Basic questions must be asked, such as:

“Does our mission need to be redefined?
Are our strategic goals aligned with our mission?
Who are our customers?”
An organization may find that it is operating on questionable assumptions, particularly in terms of the wants and needs of its customers. Only after the organization rethinks what it should be doing, does it go on to decide how best to do it.

While keeping in mind the organization’s mission and goals, the reengineering effort must focus on the organization’s business processes – in other words, the steps and procedures that govern how resources are used to create products and services that meet the needs of particular customers or markets. A business process typically can be broken down into specific activities, measured, modeled, and improved. It can also be completely redesigned or eliminated altogether. Reengineering identifies, analyzes, and redesigns an organization’s core business processes with the aim of achieving dramatic improvements in critical performance measures, such as, quality, cost, and delivery

It is important to remember that an organization’s business processes are usually fragmented into sub processes and tasks that are carried out by several specialized functional areas within the organization. Too often, no one is accountable for the overall performance of the entire process. Reengineering maintains that optimizing the performance of sub processes can result in some benefits, but cannot yield dramatic improvements if the process itself is fundamentally inefficient and outmoded. For that reason, reengineering must focus on redesigning the process as a whole in order to achieve the greatest possible benefits to the organization and their customers.

Process improvement efforts that focus on functional or incremental improvement are insufficient to re-invigorating your organization to the levels needed to overcome the effects of the current recession. Re-invigoration will only come by fundamentally rethinking how the organization’s work should be done and implementing the changes necessary to accomplish the mission and goals of the organization

The above model provides a framework for thinking about your organization’s mission and processes. To begin with your mission defines your work processes. These work processes in turn execute management’s decisions which are based on available information. Information availability is enhanced by employing the latest technology to process information which supports management’s decisions. These decisions in turn guide the organization’s works processes in order to accomplish the organizations mission. When evaluating the works process, it is important to remember this model and frame the reengineering process to include these considerations.

Re-invigoration requires that management refocus on how to help the organization accomplish its mission. An effective tool to help this refocus is the SWOT analysis often used by marketing professionals. The approach should be, “considering the current economic situation, what are our strengths and opportunities that we can capitalize on in the short term as well as the long term? It is always best to start out with the positive aspects of analysis in order to generate effective ideas and solutions. One the strengths and opportunities have been identified and processed, you can continue by identifying your organization’s weaknesses and threats.

An effective approach is to use strategic thinking to build a strong business case for change. Too often, management takes a shortcut and decides that their decision is sufficient to evoke change. Unless you build a strong business based case for the change, it will not get the support of all of the stakeholders, especially of middle management. A good model for strategic thinking can be found in the ALERA Group’s program: Strategic Thinking for Operations and Projects. An overview of this approach is shown in the following:

Assessment of the situation
Plan of action
Action taking
Gauging impact

Your organization can continue to struggle through the current recession or it can lift it self up by the bootstraps, the decision is yours. All it requires is a strong desire to change, a realistic plan to accomplish it, and the commitment of upper management to make it happen. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so get going. If you are unsure how to go about it, get some help. Your success at the end of the year is solely upon your shoulders.

Brice Alvord – Brice Alvord has over thirty years experience as an internal and external performance improvement consultant and business coach. Mr. Alvord has extensive experience in designing …
Business process modelling