Where did it come from? In 1993, when belts were being tightened, Michael Hammer and James Champy threw a hand grenade into the boardrooms of the world's corporations with their book Re-engineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution. Here was the case for radical, top-down business transformation, powerfully argued: it was time to 'break the china', the authors said. Reinvent your industry and build barriers to entry by taking the tough measures others are too squeamish to pursue. For CEOs looking to justify huge 'downsizings', the book came at just the right time.
Where's it going? As a fad, re-engineering proved irresistible to a certain kind of boss. But as the recession dragged on, the wave of downsizings (later 'rightsizings') provoked outrage in the industrial world. CEOs who sacked thousands of workers and then got millions of dollars in 'compensation', were soon known as corporate killers. John Birt re-engineered the BBC to within an inch of its life - and although the corporation may have been 'saved' for the digital age, his regime inflicted wounds from which it is still recovering. BPR may retain some of its logic today, but sensible bosses proceed with extreme caution.
Fad quotient (out of 10)
Five (and falling).