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 Re-engineering: "Profesional Management" In Action

The latest trend in the business world is called Re-engineering. This headline was published on the prestigious, Business Class magazine, this   extract was taken from its 10th issue of the month of April.

Trend, a key word, highly dangerous and unproductive! In Management.

Management has been taught according to which is the latest trend, this is not only harmful but really expensive and unproductive. In the Total Quality trend, which it was set 10 years ago, considerable financial efforts were made in hundreds of companies and we still have not heard of a truly successful experiment.

Furthermore, I do not exaggerate if I say that in a majority of these companies, the experiment failed and hundreds of millions of pesos were squandered.

What is strange is not the failure of the trend itself. What is really strange is apparently not learning the lesson and not analyzing deeper, what is the real cause and where does the problem lay in our management and in the general American management.

With the famous re-engineering the same thing will happen. What if Mr. Jammer, inventor of the term not of the technic, or discipline as we will see, had publicized his famous BEST SELLER with the comments expressed at the end of his book:

"We regret to inform that despite of the few success stories presented, many companies that begin reengineering WILL NOT ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. We Estimate, not scientifically, that between 50 and 70 percent of the organizations that undertake a reengineering effort, FAILED dramatically the spectacular results they were looking for".

These are frankly speaking words of Mr. Jammer and of Mr. Champy, authors of the best selling Management book of the recent days and that cold headed show the sad reality of the management trends.

I have been particularly tough with management trends, and I had the opportunity to closely observe a number of processes undertaken by very reputable companies, who rushed widely and without sufficient preparation for a case like this, an ambitious Total Quality program. The program was abandoned and certainly today, nobody remembers their illusions, and even less of their procedure. And do not say it's an isolated case, Japanese themselves have warned the father of modern management, Mr. PF Drucker. Just remember the words of a senior executive at Toyota talking with Mr. Drucker. "We cannot use the ACT. In the best of cases, to which no one has come so far, reduces defects up to a 10% ..." (See Management for the Future PF Drucker, Norma 1993).

Personally I think there is a fundamental and different problem and that it has not been analyzed so far, with the attention it deserves.

The Re-engineering provided by Mr. Jammer and Mr. Champy, is not far from any of the management trends of the last twenty years and they criticize that, with a good reason. As they say, it has only worked for distracting the managers of their required task.

The Re-engineering is not different! And we firmly believe that is not the company that needs to be redesigned or reinvented, it’s the management the one that needs to be revised or retrained. It’s the Management, which needs to be placed on the operation table in order to make it a major plastic surgery to change its fundamental face and its whole body.

This highly reputed magazine brings the key of the issue in its central article, which says: THE MANAGERS FLUNKED: 78% DO NOT KNOW WHAT RE-ENGINEERING IS (from the Mercalegis business survey of April, where 200 senior executives were interviewed. (Presidents, vice-presidents and General Managers only), 78% of the managers do not know a fundamental issue of Management!

What does really happen? We believe its something very simple, easy, and perhaps painful. First, today, management is a profession and not an art. Second, with a few exceptions, management is a profession that is in the hands of Empiricals, everyone could say what! In hands of Empiricals!. We are all professionals why call us empiricals!.

Its true, almost all, are professionals and very good!, That is true, but professionals for other occupations, and probably, for a technical occupation, (engineers, economists lawyers, psychologists, etc.).

All these professionals pursued a basic career and have arrived to the Management due to their capacity, competence, and dedication and mainly for their experience. They cannot be dismissed so easily. That's why I believe that Jammer and Champy exaggerate when they say that "forget what you know about how to run a business." Almost everything is wrong!. This is also not accurate. The world would not be today at the point of development, if we did not know how a company works.

But if there is one thing today, which no longer works. Administration in general is a social technique invented, a discipline that has evolved since man stood upright on the face of the earth. Today we have fundamental management principles, of administration, technically invented and developed for over 60 years.

In these principles, generic and universal, are the basis for each and every one of the trends, including the famous reengineering, what happens, and the survey shows it, is that we do not know, because they are not from our basic training. Because we have never studied them, because we do not have time to update ourselves or because we do not have the attitude of understanding management as another profession, very different from the one in which we initially were formed which requires knowledge of fundamentals subjects and a continuously update in these areas. Generally the actual managers, do not have time and are not interested in management issues. They have left this to the academy.

That is why management is generally empirical, because it is in hands of reputed professionals, who have become managers due to their experience, but in most cases, unaware of the fundamental principles of the discipline exercised (management) even if, many are actualized in the basic skills. A computer department manager, will be skilled in management, even if he ignores the general administration theory, the administrative process and the manager´s fundamental issues although he is a brilliant engineer, in the hardware and software areas.

This situation is identical for any company executive level, and this includes in many cases the senior management. The mistake of delegating the manager`s functions in a department have traditionally existed: The role of planning in a planning department. The leadership foundation in a industrial relations department. The controlling role in a comptroller`s office and so on. This has led us to have half trained managers when the managers we need must be integrally trained. This could be Fayol`s wrong and blind legacy.

In a company litle matters if the work is done by processes or departments, what really matters is the type of competence the managers have., This is called management, to any position that has under its responsibility the integration, direction and control of human and non  human resources.

In reality, each company is a MULTIPLE SYSTEM. We could simply say that each company is a whole part, whose parts can be simply seen as smaller companies, where, without exception, raw materials, goods and services are produced. The system must be understood and comprehended.

Each manager or position in those units is a manager. It’s a mistake to call it so many names. It's just a manager. What happens is that it belongs to a different responsibility or hierarchy different from the division’s managers or general manager.

Each one of these managers practices a very different profession from the one that he initially graduated. This new profession requires of some knowledge, in different disciplines that if they are not known, dominated or practiced almost daily, it will make them become just a skilled but unprepared person for these modern times and becoming a heavy load for the company, which will make the whole system, inefficient and probably ineffective.

This is why the management office is usually empirical because it is in the hands of reputed professionals, who have become managers in the practice, but in most cases, they are unaware of the fundamental principles of the discipline they are exercising (Management).

Management cannot continue to be a case study. It cannot follow trend to trend. This is a serious mistake and now even more in an open or global economy. In the past, when there were fat times in Europe, we could have given ourselves the pleasure of having practical people in the   management positions. Today, we are in the lean times because of the competition, technology, opening, and globalization. This obliges us to require management professionals and the first task we must undertake if we do not want to throw the money overboard with trends and tremendously expensive consultants, is to train, and in some cases retraining, our actual managers in the manager`s basic subjects, in theory and in practice, the universal and fundamental principles of administration, so that they can have fist-hand knowledge, so that afterwards the last need can be revised which is to re-invent or re-design the company.

The redesign of Processes and of the education or the transformation of the company, arises from a constant change that embraces us. This is why these practices are subsumed in the daily actions of the modern manager that as a great strategist prepares their permanent task forces, to execute the appropriate operation at the given opportunity and at the right time.

Management will realize, that if it practices professionally its work, profession, trends, including re-engineering, it will become in bread and butter, and in a piece of cake.


Metropolitan Planning Medellin, Magazine No. 10-1994


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