Clean sheet redesign is an element of Michael Hammer’s concept of business re-engineering. If you could start afresh, with a clean sheet of paper, and redesign your company in a completely new way, how would you do it? Starting from that clean sheet redesign, how would you re-engineer the current company to fit that picture?
How does clean sheet redesign work in practice? THNK co-founder Menno van Dijk had the opportunity to work in a business with large and intensive capital-entrenched infrastructure− the mining industry. There was an opportunity to build a new mine, and to redesign all kinds of processes. The team found that they could replace large movers with smaller, niftier ones. Large movers were believed to move more at a time in a batch system. But it had also become a question of habit, as large movers had an association with stereotypical machismo, correlating size with manliness.
A second example concerned the number of crushers, and when to trade risks against costs. The old system relied on three crushers, but revised calculations showed that two would suffice. The fear was that if one broke down, the remaining one would not be able to handle the capacity, thereby turning the situation into a bottleneck. Installing two crushers and leaving enough space to retrofit a third eventually solved this dilemma. If the scenario of breakages came to pass it would not be costly to add a third crusher, and it was not needed in the end.
The clean sheet redesign process allows us to rethink a process from scratch. Ask yourself what the real need is in every situation. When building a new plant, the guiding question should be: “how do we create a great business?” and not “how do we build big projects? Consider that elements and processes are there for a reason, and then try to understand it. When you thoroughly examine the assumptions behind their current use, you will likely make surprising discoveries with a capacity for large changes.