One of the fundamental beliefs of the process-centric, best-practices-oriented worldview (such as Hammer’s Business Process Reengineering concept) is that imitation is the highest form of performance.
I’m not saying this is necessarily what the theory recommends, at least not explicitly. It’s just what happens when the theory is put into practice. When the organization’s highest values include compliance and conformity, when the organization rewards following best practices rather than discovering new ones, then creativity, imagination, accountability and initiative are stifled, no matter what the theory says.
The late Michael Hammer described BPR as an “antidote” to chaos and conflict. If chaos and conflict need an antidote, I guess that makes them a poison. And sure, in excessive quantities, they probably are. So is alcohol. On the other hand, an absence of chaos and conflict might not be the right answer either, anymore than prohibition was a good idea. Dee Hock, the wildly successful founder of Visa, talks about “the chaordic organization,” which is a combination of chaos and order. Not a balance, necessarily, because how do you “balance” chaos? Rather, it’s a harmonious coexistence between chaos and order. There's no room for such harmony in BPR.
As for conflict, Jerry Harvey argues that our main problem in organizations is not how to handle conflict, but how to handle agreement. Specifically, how to handle disingenuous agreement, in which people go along to get along and end up on the road to Abilene. Let me say this clearly: Dr. Harvey is right. Dr. Hammer is wrong. Conflict doesn't need an antidote. Neither does chaos.
So, I’m deeply disinterested in driving out conflict and chaos (or administering the antidote). In fact, in the kind of work I do, I insist that there be some chaos, some conflict, some confusion. These strike me as essential elements for discovery, creativity and rigorous performance.