energizing breakthrough performance

BIG Trouble: The Dual-Hatted Role in a Matrix Organization

Author: ; Published: Dec 30, 2009; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , ; No Comments»

 

What about the "dual-hatted role" in a matrix organization? This is a situation where a professional is assigned both vertical leadership as well as horizontal leadership responsibilities.

Short answer, bad idea.

It may be used on a very brief and temporary basis because of a talent shortage provided that thorough justification has been provided. In those instances where a dual-hatted role is approved for temporary use, it must be with the provision that another individual will be cultivated quickly to assume one of the two roles. Exceptions could be a short-term project, a truly extraordinary financial or geographic constraint, or a discipline specialty so rare that it would be folly to invest in developing bench strength in that particular functional subspecialty.

Why does all this matter?

  1. Potential confusion. Staff and management get confused about the exact role that the dual-hatted individual playing: Is s/he making a decision based on project or goal imperatives or on the basis of functional perspective? In extreme cases, this can escalate into staff confusion about whether the company is serious about implementing matrix management or whether it is reverting to its old pre-matrix ways.
  2. Dilution of synergy. Project Managers need to maximize synergy among functions to execute the project. Gaining and exercising a multi-disciplinary perspective is critical to success, but if we embed the Project Manager further into his/her native discipline in the dual-hatted capacity; we weaken cultivation of a seamless, synergistic project management viewpoint.
  3. Fear of loss of status. One source of resistance to matrix management is the sensation of a loss of status, power, and control to which some managers may cling. They once made all decisions—horizontal and vertical—relative to their work and employees. Now they must collaborate and consult with others. This is real change; it takes them out of their legacy comfort zones. Some will seek escape routes wherever they can find or invent them. These managers are actually gaining power in the matrix organization but it takes a while for them to figure that out. Top management enforcement of new matrix roles is critical to reaching the tipping point of real change and releasing the real power of the modern matrix organization.

Even worse, the dual-hatted role can sometimes degenerate into a proposition where some individuals are granted special license to live by the roles and rules of the pre-matrix organization, to some extent exempt from the overarching matrix proposition of "pursuing shared objectives using shared resources."  If such arrangements catch fire, you can bet real money that the impetus to get designated as a "dual-hatted" player will snowball as a new indices of status and power.  Next thing you know., you’ll have more and more people clamoring to return to the comfortable roles and patterns of the pre-matrix past, traveling under the canopy of the dual-hatted role.  If enough of this happens, you’ll be left dealing with the unfortunate question of "when is a matrix not a matrix?" or otherwise finding yourself agreeing with the French that "the more things change, the more they remain the same."

Bottom line, avoid the "dual-hatted role" at all costs.  It’s nothing but trouble.

Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Print
  • email
  • blogmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooBuzz

I Am Lucky to Have Smart Clients

Author: ; Published: Dec 20, 2009; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , ; No Comments»

They tell me that a business blogger should offer a personal observation from time to time as a way of introducing oneself and providing a more complete picture of the person who is delivering professional services. So let’s take a crack at it and springboard from today’s activities. One of the things that management consultants have to do is keep their Statement of Corporate Qualifications current. That’s because you are looking for a new job every day. I have been looking for a new job every day for the past quarter century! Anyway, this task involves listing clients and reference contacts, describing assignments and the like. When you are writing a major proposal, it’s only natural that prospects want to know where you have done work before and how they can contact your references to assess client satisfaction with completed projects. I confess that I don’t keep the Statement as current as I should. What with client work involving extensive travel, sometimes international, it gets hard to squeeze in such a task. However, periodically I do get it done and I make sure that every assignment gets posted (except for those governed by Non-Disclosure Agreements).

I was updating the Corporate Qualifications the other day and decided to count the number of clients for which I had done work related to matrix management. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the January 2010 cumulative total is 50; just for those related to matrix management! A handful of these were here in the Washington DC area, but the vast bulk involved travel.

I recall fondly my first matrix management client. It was Boehringer Mannheim Pharmaceuticals–now Boehringer Ingleheim. This was some two decades ago. The R&D section had a facility up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Suburban Maryland had an up-and-coming pharma and biotech corridor that’s now pretty well established. The Director of R&D, now retired, was an MD and a former executive at the FDA. As I described my approach to the assignment – it was a matrix organization “tune-up” project for an existing matrix structure, I saw his eyes light up. He said to me, “As a scientist, I must admit that I am both surprised and delighted…you have a structured, systematic approach to all of this.; I feel better already.”

It was through that first assignment that I learned how much I enjoy working with scientific and technical people and intelligent and engaged people, in general. Their personalities tend to be pleasing, or, at minimum, highly interesting. They insist on logical, step-by-step approaches. Boehringer was a great environment in which to “cut my teeth.” Boehringer was the first of many pharma clients. The Director of R&D and later, the COO for the U.S., provided me with many interesting challenges. They did so even though I had a steep learning curve about the industry. Then, as time went by, new industries presented themselves. There was more for me to learn and yet other executives gave me the benefit of the doubt that, indeed, I could learn about the contours of their industry and then apply my templates and knowledge to assist them. Through all of this, I began to see transcendent dynamics which apply to many, if not all industries. I also began to connect the dots and become confident that I could work a particular industry, either because I had worked in that industry before or because it was a “neighbor” that shared common core characteristics with an industry in which I had worked previously.

I am fortunate in having so many smart clients. I have learned something from each and every one of them and that has, in turn, helped me work more effectively with the next client. Along the way, I have made many friends. Sometimes the travel gets a bit much but, all in all, the level of satisfaction involved in helping people get the most out of our consulting and training services along with the opportunity to work with great people and make friends along the way – balances everything out. The job also provides a great deal of variety: There is no boredom. I am grateful for my clients – past, present, and future. I just have to remember to write it all down.

Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Print
  • email
  • blogmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooBuzz

Fortifying the Matrix Organization: Sharing and Distributing Credit Among Teams

Author: ; Published: Dec 19, 2009; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , , , ; No Comments»

fort

By pausing and investigating the underpinnings of success, both process and human, senior leadership can distribute credit in a way that fortifies the matrix structure by creating conditions favorable to teamwork—past, present, and future.

The matrix organization is comprised of multiple cross-functional teams. The team is the basic building block of the structure. At any given point in time, the behavior of all personnel will either fortify or erode the matrix structure. At the highest level of matrix functioning, all personnel will become appropriately circumspect about whether their behavior is fortifying or eroding the matrix.

Absolutely essential to matrix functioning is an adequate degree of circumspection at the most senior levels of the organization. All members of an organization like to be the one to deliver good news to senior leadership. However, the first “messenger” to trumpet success to a top-level boss may or may not have been instrumental in achieving a given success. Sharp elbows might be indicative of a sharp mind and Herculean effort; sometimes this is the case but sometimes it is not.

When good news is reported to a senior leader, this individual should immediately pause and ask two questions namely, “To what can we attribute our success?” and “To whom can we attribute our success?”

In answer to the first question, the challenge is to identify those cross-functional synergies that were pivotal in achieving a breakthrough.

In answer to the second question, the challenge is to ensure that credit for the success is distributed to and shared among the members of the team which delivered it. The Horizontal Leader and the participating Vertical Leaders are likely to have insights as to any creative, or otherwise disproportional or heroic contributions that should be singled out for special commendation. Most frequently, a small amount of digging will reveal any special achievements that warrant special notice. The heroic contributors are often too busy to sound their own horn. Following this analogy, don’t assume that a vehicle is moving just because it has honked its horn. In addition, it can also be argued that the efforts of each and every team member were required to create an incubator in which synergistic, cross-functional success could be attained. In this sense, senior leadership should distribute both generic as well as particular credit, should particular credit be warranted.

Interdependency is at the root of creative synergy. When it comes to the behavior of senior leadership, little things can and do mean a lot. When senior leadership ensures that both team and individual efforts are recognized and rewarded, the matrix structure is fortified in ways that will reinforce future synergy. The cumulative effects of senior leadership impact the significant benefits which an ever-strengthening matrix culture can deliver.

Remember the operational definition of “culture:” Culture is what employees do when the boss isn’t looking. To the extent that employees perceive and understand that effective teamwork is what will be inspected and rewarded by senior leadership without fail, their behavior will tilt increasingly in the direction of cooperative interdependency. In this way the promised benefits of matrix management can be delivered through multiple cross-functional teams pursuing shared objectives using shared resources.

Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Print
  • email
  • blogmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooBuzz