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Matrix Management and Career Advancement/ Job Search

Author: ; Published: Apr 26, 2010; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments»

Matrix management-related developments are monitored closely here at Strategic Futures. One good source of information is Google Alerts, a resource one can access and subscribe to on www.google.com. Google Alert–Matrix Management is increasingly displaying job vacancies where the applicant is expected to have experience managing or working in a matrix environment.

Indeed, we can’t help but observe that more and more companies are moving to matrix management. There are significant employment and promotional opportunities available to those who can represent fairly that they are ready, willing, and able to work in a matrix structure.

A jobseeker or someone looking for career advancement may have the requisite technical skills for a job vacancy but may lament that s/he doesn’t possess extensive matrix management experience–or perhaps none at all. What to do?

First, let’s consider that you may well have relevant experience and not know that you do. Have you worked on a cross-functional team where you were collaborating with people drawn from disciplines other than your own? This may have been in pursuit of a specific goal, performance of a specific project, or the satisfaction of a particular customer’s requirements. If so, you are part of the way there.  Have you worked successfully on multiple projects at once?  If so, this is something to emphasize!

Cross-functional collaboration is at the heart of any well-designed and managed matrix organization. Seeking out the productivity- and profit-building synergies that are expected from such collaboration is the strategic companion to the matrix structure. If you are able to talk about your contributions to results achieved from such cross-functional effort, you already have your foot in the door.

On the other hand and as you might expect, there’s more to it than that. When multiple cross-functional teams pursue shared objectives using shared resources, things get a bit more complicated and your ability to work through and with these complications is what the employer is seeking. There are specific roles that are played by participants in the matrix structure. There are also rules and tools that you need to know.

One way to get over this employment screening hurdle is to indicate that you have worked on cross-functional teams (if you have) and/or on multiple projects at once, and also to indicate that you have familiarized yourself with the structure and dynamics of a matrix organization by reading pertinent literature. You might want to order one or two of our booklets, namely Life in the Matrix and also Matrix Stations. Better yet, you may want to order my book, Matrix Management Success: Method Not Magic. Chances are if you read the booklets and/or the book as well as reviewing the articles in our Library such as Matrix Management: Method, Not Magic and our matrix management blogs, you’ll know as much as the person who is reviewing your resume and interviewing you. Indeed, if you read the book, odds are you’ll be more knowledgeable about matrix management than the person who is scrutinizing your application for employment.

Good luck in your quest!

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Designing the Successful Matrix Organization: 18 Critical Decisions

Author: ; Published: Apr 7, 2010; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments»

Designing a matrix management structure is not a “one size fits all” proposition.  The key issues that emerge when moving to a matrix structure surround a thirst for clarity at every level of the organization. Employees want to know: “What am I supposed to do differently?”; “How does an arrangement where I report to more than one boss actually work?” Leadership wants to know what it can do to usher the new structure into place – with minimal resistance and maximum speed and success. There are roles, rules and tools that make a matrix structure work successfully. These need to be designed systematically and with all due diligence if matrix management success is to be achieved.

Strategic Futures helps clients in the formative stages of matrix management by framing the 18 key decisions that need to be made, emphatically steering the client away from known perils – towards successful, proven practices.

Here’s the thing: These 18 formative decisions are largely invisible to organizations setting out on the matrix management journey. The good news is that key decisions are known to Strategic Futures because of our work with dozens and dozens of clients in a full spectrum of industries over many years. Explicit and conscious decision-making concerning these key issues saves our clients time, money, and frustration in very significant ways. No amount of recasting matrix management as “the new matrix” or “the blended matrix” or other such new-and-improved spins will exempt you from making these critical decisions. 

There’s more good news: Decision outputs can then be imported into future briefings and training for staff that builds employee understanding and confidence in accomplishing great things using an agile matrix structure that makes the highest-and-best use of all available talent.  You don’t want to be in a position of telling management and staff that “we’ll get back to you on that,” or “we hadn’t thought about that, we’ll have to think about this.”

No one has all the answers all of the time, but a failure to think ahead should be an episodic event, rather than a chronic condition.

That’s where we come in.

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Deciding What Not to Do in Your Strategic Plan: Just Say “No”

Author: ; Published: Apr 2, 2010; Category: Strategic Planning; Tags: , ; No Comments»

 

Recently, I was asked to review the strategic plan of a professional association. The plan had evolved over many years: With each iteration, goals and objectives were added such that the plan had become a detailed encyclopedia of all of the activities that were supposed to be performed by the organization’s staff.

There were two major problems with the plan: First, some of the activities included in the plan were not being performed; in other words, these activities were not being taken seriously, thereby detracting from the plan’s credibility.  In a nutshell, staff were accountable for the pursuit of some objectives contained in the plan, but not all.  But which ones? The plan had lost its value as a navigational tool – as a device for tracking progress and correcting the organization’s course. 

The second problem with the plan was that the organization was insufficiently staffed to implement it, and not by a little, but by a lot! This resulted in cynicism concerning the plan as well as no small amount of staff fatigue.

Strategic planning is a process of making decisions about priorities and then setting forth serious operational plans which permit the attainment of major goals. Strategic plans should be aggressive. They should provide “stretch.” However, “stretch” should not take things to the breaking point, because, to be brief, things can and will break if stretched too far.

In making decisions about priorities, it is inevitable that a quality strategic plan will entail making decisions about what not to do, whether this means deferring a priority until a later time, or just swallowing hard and discarding one initiative in favor of another which promises greater pay-off or “goodness of fit” with where the organization wants to go.

To quote Nancy Reagan, sometimes it’s “Just Say No.” Good strategic planning helps an organization make these choices with all due diligence.

If you need help, contact us about our Strategic Futures Strategic Planning Facilitation services.

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