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A Key Benefit of Matrix Management: Scalability

Author: ; Published: Aug 20, 2010; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , , ; No Comments»

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Why are more organizations choosing matrix management? The answer that we are hearing most frequently relates to scalability. Often, the objective is to add new locations that are functioning as intact horizontal matrix teams. Sometimes the objective is to be able to scale up and add new projects.

These organizations want to be able to expand their operations without having to do a new restructuring every time that they increase the number of locations, number of projects, or other indices of growth. 

The good news about matrix management is that it allows such modifications without having to alter the structure or add considerable overhead as part of the expansion process. Most of the time, new locations or new programs can be added without any adjustments to the vertical organization.

As an organization moves to matrix management—prior to an expansion of locations, projects, or other dimensions—employees cannot reasonably be expected to understand immediately the need for the structural shift.  Until expansion has actually occurred, they may instead perceive the move to matrix management as an addition to overhead or superstructure. It is important to explain to employees the benefits sought from the move to matrix management and to offer this explanation plainly and repeatedly. Don’t assume that because you understand the reasoning for the structural change that anyone else will.

Also, don’t assume that explaining it once or twice will do the trick. It won’t.  Many employees will adopt the Missouri “Show Me” attitude and won’t understand the motives behind the move to matrix management until real expansion has actually been executed.  Thereafter, the reason for the change will have been clear to them all along! 

In summary, a key advantage of the matrix structure is that you are able to “snap on” a new horizontal team or any number of teams; up to a point; train up the team members; and then go “live” immediately. 

More and more, scalability is what our clients are seeking when turning to the matrix structure.  While there are other significant benefits of the matrix structure such as maximizing resource utilization, solving complex problems, achieving a flatter organization, and achieving cross-functional synergy, the advantage of scalability is driving many decisionmakers to opt for matrix management.

If you need consulting or training help with your transition to matrix management, please call us, 703/836-8383 or email us at info@strategicfutures.com.

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