An Appreciation: On the Passing of Dr. Michael Hammer

It was with great sadness that I read today of the passing of Dr. Michael Hammer. Dr. Hammer was one of the seminal thinkers and authors in the management consulting industry and influenced me and so many others.

As co-author with James Champy of “Reengineering the Corporation,” he espoused that many of the problems with how companies operate were due to processes that were bloated, inappropriate or simply just ineffectual. As CEO of an IT consulting company, Flash Creative Management, at the time, this resonated deeply with my partner, Yair Alan Griver and me. This led us and our company on a journey that would result in us redefining our business.

Initially, we shifted Flash from being a software development company to one that looked first at the processes that our automation efforts would impact.  Our consulting practice and our team of very talented and committed professionals began to study reengineering in earnest and, needless to say, the impact that we had on our clients grew significantly.

By applying automation and technology after evaluating and redesigning processes, we were able to produce dramatic results. In some cases, this resulted in product design and delivery shrinking from months to weeks and from weeks to days.

Intellectually, Dr. Hammer’s and Mr. Champy’s works prompted us to create and codify best practices for creating visions, redesigning process, implementation planning and improvement strategies, to name but a few. And for me personally, it helped to begin the education process regarding how to develop business strategies as I learned that understanding strategy is the pre-requisite to creating effective processes. As mentioned in an earlier post, the vision of what a company wishes to become is fundamental to all business design.

Over the years, Dr. Hammer needed to respond to criticism that streamlined and automated processes eliminated jobs. He took the position that if a business was not competitive; all jobs within the business were at risk. If you subscribe to the belief that to be successful your business must add a value that your competition does not, it becomes very easy to align with Dr. Hammer’s way of thinking. Efficiency and cost reduction by streamlining processes and aligning actions with strategy are sure ways to make certain that your business is more competitive.

The world has lost one of the most profound thinkers of organizational design. Fortunately, he leaves behind an impressive body of work and many disciples who will build on his teachings.

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