Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Tribute to Michael Hammer 1948-2008

The business world lost one of its best and brightest business gurus this past week. Dr. Michael Hammer unfortunately passed away at an early age as a result of a devastating brain bleed. He was a visionary who shaped the reengineering revolution in the late 90s with his book "Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution". He was a counselor and mentor to many of the most successful CEOs and helped countless corporations improve performance and efficiency while attaining the highest levels of quality and throughput. He trained armies of thousands of people through his public workshops and training programs with a focus on process redesign and organization transformation. His ideas and processes touched many.

On a personal level, Michael was a dear and close friend of mine as well as professional mentor. Ten years ago at a Labor Day BBQ at my home, he encouraged me to establish our firm and create a proprietary approach to engage and enroll employees around change, effective communication and process redesign. He said at the time, "That unless companies motivate and inspire employees to accept change, the company will never be successful at obtaining buy-in and accelerated performance." Indeed, in a 1996 interview with the Wall Street Journal, he admitted that he and other reengineering proponents hadn't paid enough attention to people. "I wasn't smart enough about that," Dr. Hammer said, "I was reflecting my engineering background and was insufficiently appreciative of the human dimension. I've learned that it's critical." After the millennium, he often talked about the importance of employee buy-in and acceptance of change suggesting focusing on the advocates of change and the eradication/elimination of the opponents of change.

He was the brightest person I have ever met with a wide variety of interests and curiosities. He enjoyed antiquities, ancient maps, modern architecture and design, global exploration to his far off places and Jewish biblical scholarship and study. He was a pillar within our close community and a very generous yet private philanthropist. Most of all he was a loving husband, father and a good friend. I will miss him dearly.


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