Less than a fad, it became a generic term for process improvement, perhaps because of the commonness of the name reengineering, which could be applied to any of the previously existing managerial philosophies and approaches that pre-dated its birth. Even its advocates admitted that “by the mid-2000s reengineering has largely lost its violent language and radical character. It has become a generic label for making change in organizations” (Reengineering 2011, INC).
Reengineering is not accompanied by a specific methodology of “statistical quality control” like Six Sigma, and virtually any organizational change can be labeled reengineering “large restructurings in industry leading to mass lay-offs, off-shorings, and out-sourcings” which may not necessarily lead to the maximization of organizational efficiency in the long run, but merely result in short-term profits. Reengineering has become a way for almost any desired change to sound like a process improvement, no matter how hasty, ill-advised or self-serving on the part of management.
In contrast, previous approaches like JIT, Six Sigma and TQM had to be justified in a highly methodological and coherent fashion, according to a pre-determined organizational grid.
Reengineering does have some arguments in its favor, as it can be more flexible than JIT, Six Sigma, or TQM. The idea that fixing things that do not work from the ground up is clearly often beneficial. There is always a need to be constantly reevaluating and retooling procedures to improve speed, cost containment, and agility seems valid. But reengineering has not added any substantive and earth-shattering paradigm shifts to management literature like JIT, Six Sigma, and TQM.
Reengineering. (2011). INC. Retrieved February 20, 2011 at http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/reengineering.htm.