Thursday, September 18, 2014

Article Report; Week 3

Simon Head,"The Rise of the Reengineers," in The New Ruthless Economy (2003)

            Due to a feeling of unproductiveness and inefficiency in the workforce during the 1900’s, various individuals proposed new economic ideas that would increase proficiency and yield more output within a company. Particularly, as suggested in a chapter entitled “The Rise of the New Reengineers” in Simon Head’s The New Ruthless Economy published in 2003, the idea of reengineering helped restructure various businesses for the better both physically as well as mentally. Combined with the rise of information technology, this so called term “reengineering”, helped companies utilize each of their employees to their fullest, and speed up the service they delivered to their customers. The primary points made within Head’s article came from the work of William Henry Leffingwell, who modeled his thoughts off Frederick Winslow Taylor. Leffingwell’s main idea, and thus so the thesis of this article, was that each employee in a company needs to understand their role and make the most of it. He asserted that an office is most successful when run like a factory.
            Using his experience in a mail-order driven business, Leffingwell established principles to “govern every aspect of office life” (Page 62) and rid of all control or coordination problems. For him, reengineering meant creating a system of fulfillment and paying attention to detail in order to reach the main goal of efficiency. Everything was about improvement, and Leffingwell believed in making workers most productive rapidly by having them repeat tasks over and over again until they have reached perfection. Specifically, as stated in the article, reengineers are all about seizing upon business opportunities, simplifying them, and then speeding up the completion stage by limiting the time it takes to get things from one department to the next. As a result, with the introduction of the digital age, modern day reengineering involves an operational and managerial process according to Thomas Davenport. In other words, technology has sped up daily functions, and also has helped improve upon the foundation for the running of the operational process. Reengineering begins at the top and affects the structure of how work is divided, along with allows managers to stop acting solely like supervisors, and more like trainers and advice givers.
            In terms of credibility and his intended audience, Simon Head is the director of the Project on Technology and the Workplace at the Century Foundation. Head is undeniably an expert on the growing impact of technology on the restructuring of businesses, and how they utilize the information age to become more productive and efficient. Within the article, by calling upon well known businesses such as UPS and IBM and showing the positive impact of reengineering on their corporate efforts, Head assures he knows what he is talking about and becomes even more persuasive in his writing. The New Ruthless Economy was published in New York in 2003 as a more informational book and analysis of the changing market, yet Head definitely made it clear he is an expert by bringing in comparisons of both old and new trends. 

            Undoubtedly, many reviewers have acclaimed The New Ruthless Economy to be an effective piece of literature as well. For proof, according to Richard Sennett of the London School of Economics, “’This extraordinary book puts together the culture of modern capitalism with numbers and hard facts. Simon Head has written a disturbing and brilliant analysis of what ails the modern economy’”. In similar terms, other articles have also been written about reengineering that cover the same viewpoints. For example, in the article found from this link, the author discusses how reengineering is focused around increasing profits and gaining an advantage in the market. Furthermore, in this article,, the chief of the department is reengineering his sector of the NYPD to improve efficiency. It is clear across the board that a new modern day, technology led economy has called upon reengineering as a way to update businesses and increase efficiency widespread. As Leffingwell made clear in the early 1900’s, it is all about doing things as quickly as possible while maintaining quality.

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