Reengineering is about a fundamental rethink and redesign of your business processes to achieve improvements in performance, quality, service and speed. A formal reengineering process includes seven steps:

  • Initiate the reengineering process and make a business case for why it is needed
  • Get Senior Executive buy in
  • Select the key process to reengineer
  • Plan your activities
  • Examine the current process to find problem areas
  • Redesign it to create improvements
  • Ensure implementation is a success through monitoring and measurement

Key success factors include:

  • Organisational commitment
  • The composition of the team doing the reengineering
  • The quality of the business case made for change
  • IT infrastructure
  • Change management process
  • Continuous improvement orientation

A good example of a process you can use to involve people in the re-engineering process is on YouTube under the title: Tom Wujec: Got a wicked problem. First, tell me how you make toast.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) comes at the need to streamline and open restrictive processes from a different vantage point. The AI approach leads you through the following questions:

  1. What works now? – Here you are working from the idea that every system works to some degree and it’s important to identify where and how it is working now.
  2. What might be? – In this phase, you explore possibilities and build a vision for the future that you want.
  3. What should be or what is the ideal? – At this point you generate the new design for your process.
  4. What will be? – At this final phase you take steps to make the changes and build the new system to bring your vision into being.

A book on the Appreciative Inquiry approach is The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change by Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and David Cooperrider.

To institutionalize the practice of challenging restrictive systems and breaking down barriers to action the following initiatives may assist you:

  • Set up a Red Tape-buster Action Team to spearhead any ideas people have for reducing red tape.
  • Ensure that any best practices in busting Red Tape are widely publicized
  • Institute a policy that for any new procedure or process another one must be removed.
  • Pilot new approaches frequently and input what you have learned into a continuous learning cycle.
  • Talk to front-line users of systems and processes and get their views and ideas on what could be streamlined for action.
  • Set up Red Tape Buster rewards and publicly acknowledge those who come up with innovative ideas that simplify and speed up processes.
  • Get new ideas to improve your processes from those who don’t know anything about what you do.
  • Bring IT in on any brainstorming to include their ideas as support to you.
Certain communities in the organisation must manage the polarity of providing service while being the guardians of ethics with respect to their domain. Human Resources and Finance are two of these kinds of communities. When this polarity isn’t managed, particularly when these communities become disconnected from line operations, the guardian role gains prominence. When this happens the focus on the guardian side leads to barriers to action on the part of leaders.

Some organisations have dealt with this imbalance through the following measures:

  • Co-locating these communities with line operations.
  • Sharing accountability between these communities and line operations.
  • Changing the reporting relationship.
  • Training leaders in what is required of them in these domains.
  • Training Human Resources and Finance in client service orientation, ethics beyond following the rules, re-engineering/Appreciative Inquiry, values-based as opposed to rules-based decision making.
  • Professionalizing these communities by requiring various certifications related to the work.
  • Bringing leaders from these communities into high-level executive and managerial meetings in order to gain their strategic advice and to inform them of anticipated needs in the business that will involve them.
  • Training someone in line operations in Human Resources and Finance so they can play a continuing liaison function.

Setting up Communities of Practice for Human Resources and Finance communities so they can exchange innovative ideas, engage in collective learning and manage their communities strategically.

Caribbean Leadership Project
Cave Hill School of Business
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus
P.O. Box 64, Bridgetown, BB11000, Barbados
+1 246 417 3152