If You Don't Quit Re-engineering,
You'll Go Blind

Unless your organization has been really slow off the mark, or is located in a cave, you have spent the last few years re-engineering yourself. And, if you are like most folks, you've pretty well had your fill of it by now.

But hey, it's been fun hasn't it? And look what it's done for us. The Wall Street Journal quotes Harvard's Dr. James Medoff as saying, "There is no empirical evidence that any of (these re-engineering processes) increase productivity". Management consulting firm Gibson & Co, after 4,000 focus groups, pegs "the effectiveness of these management fads at between just 10-20 per cent." Not only that, but re-engineering has spawned a whole new line of consultants who run around the country doing workshops on how to care for re-engineering "survivors". Surely this is cause for rejoicing. If you are the sensitive sort, it might make you wonder what happened to those who didn't make it. Was there a workshop for them too? And come to think of it, whatever happened to the "people are our greatest resource" bit? We gave that one up pretty easily didn't we. Reminds me of the Groucho Marx line, "These are my principles and if you don't like them....I have others."

Contrary to first impressions, I really am in favor of efficiency and productivity. If you can do something in five steps instead of twenty-six, God bless you. The point however is that re-engineering is blinding us. We've converted every human activity and relationship into mechanical and measurable units, failing to see that the human spirit cannot thrive in that environment. We have become blind to the reality that once you lose spirit you lose everything. If there is no wind in the sails the most scientifically engineered sloop will go no further or faster than a dingy.

We have become blind to the truth that human spirit drives every significant human initiative. Without a loving, vibrant, energized, creative, courageous and challenging spirit pervading our corporations we end up little more than a collection of empty structures and systems. Get the spirit right and the systems will fall into place. It does not work the other way around.

Every leader should look into the re-engineered eyes of their people. Do you see fire and passion? In our panic we have built the world's most thermally advanced fireplace, a masterpiece of design technology and in our pride have failed to see that there is no fire in the fireplace. If there is no fire, what is the point of the fireplace?

This is the challenge of what I hope will soon be the post-re-engineering era: To rekindle our internal flame.

Someday after mastering
winds, tides and gravity we
shall harness for God the
energy of love, and then, for
the second time in history,
we will have discovered fire.

                                    Pierre Tielhard de Chardin

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"Copyright The Ian Percy Corporation."
Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers.

Ian Percy is an international speaker and consultant and can be reached at www.ianpercy.com


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