Another brutal reality ... concerns the efficiency, or, more accurately, the inefficiency of industries. For example, right now, $600 billion of inventory is sitting in the supply chain of global high-tech industries. It does nothing every day except depreciate. Who's going to fix that?

Every manager must ask hard questions about her own company's performance. Where do customers' experiences break down? Are they loyal only because it costs too much to switch suppliers? What are the real costs of a company's processes? ... [M]anagers must be brutally honest when they measure performance. X-engineering begins with a fair assessment of where a company stands. ...

But ... you must also look to the positive side. What are your company's real strengths? What do your customers really expect - and receive - from you? Which of your processes are truly unique or proprietary? Once you know with confidence your real uniqueness - and you will probably be surprised at how narrowly that gets defined - you will be more prepared to let go of or share the rest.

OLD TENET: Leave information technology to the technologists.
NEW TENET: Information technology is everyone's job.

As it stands, most managers ... make large capital investments in information technol-ogy without half the knowledge or thought they would insist on if they were building a plant or production line. Technology awareness has become a core competency for everyone. Even in companies that outsource information-technology development and operations, managers must have a thorough, up-to-date knowledge of how information technology works in their industry. ...

Of course managers will still have to rely on technical experts for help with many technology decisions, just as they rely on lawyers and accountants. But, if they are not knowledgeable and comfortable with the world of information technology, they won't understand the experts' advice or take in its implications.