This isn't as easy as it sounds. Much of corporate life is built on hiding company weaknesses and holding competitive secrets close to the vest. X-engineering demands sharing of ideas and internal processes with not only suppliers and partners, but sometimes even with competitors.

"Managers will be pressured to surrender hard-won control to the greater good of business-to-business and business-to-customer integration - to literally share their entire companies with other companies and customers. To some leaders this will feel reckless, a form of managerial abdication," he writes. To answer these fears, Champy offers a rundown of old management truisms, and substitutes new ones that work under the X-engineering mantle. Here, American Way presents an exclusive excerpt of this discussion; for the full version, check out Chapter Nine in X-Engineering the Corporation: Reinvent Your Business in the Digital Age (Warner Books).


OLD TENET: See the world as you want it to be.
NEW TENET: See the world as it truly is.

Lawrence A Bossidy, chairman of Honeywell, may have best pinpointed where X-engineering starts: "Effective leaders [have] a brutal understanding of reality."

Facing brutal reality requires facing technology's challenges as well as seeing [its] opportunities. What should a manager do if, for example, he can see that, despite the large sum of money he spends on information technology, it has had relatively little effect on the efficiency or effectiveness of his business? Here's a little-known fact: 53 percent of all spending on equipment in the United States today involves information technology, [but an estimated] 40 [to] 50 percent of major information-technology projects fail to deliver on their promises.