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Matrix Management in Africa

Author: ; Published: Oct 27, 2010; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , ; No Comments»

african church

Over the past 14 months or so, I have had occasion to do work with an African multinational nonprofit that specializes in agricultural development.  Our work has focused on the development and implementation of cross-functional country-based teams: Use of matrix management is creating a more agile, muscular, and scalable organization that is positioning itself to do work in additional countries with the benefit of funding drawn from philanthropies located around the world.

In addition, my monitoring of matrix management feeds from Google and elsewhere indicates that more African professional job postings are seeking professionals with experience working in matrix organizations.

All of this is a way of saying that Africa is modernizing in many respects, including management practice. I have visited Nairobi, Kenya; Accra and Cape Coast, Ghana; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the past year or so. There is new construction occurring in all of these areas, particularly Addis and Nairobi. There are new non-stop flights to more African cities being added by multiple airlines month after month. 

I had not been to Africa before work with this particular client.  I have been fascinated by the number of Asians – particularly young 20- and 30-something Asians that I see at African hotels that cater to business travelers. The personal and professional opportunities that are presented by the African continent are not lost on our friends from the Pacific Rim. Although anecdotal and unscientific, the spirit of change in Africa is palpable. There is an electric excitement in the air. One senses that a tipping point has been reached.

Yes, the poverty is widespread and overwhelming. There is so much to do.  Roads are terrible, often nearly impassable. Health conditions are appalling. Yet, the possibilities are endless and, again, the energy is positive and strong. Even more than that, the people are warm and deep. The people with whom I have been dealing are well-educated, as well as sophisticated and multi-lingual, speaking languages such as Japanese and Russian.

The music, dance, art, and history you encounter are complex and wonderful.  I have been both professionally and personally enriched by my travels there.  While the journey is long and tough on the posterior, the rewards far exceed any inconvenience.  It is so exciting that I can’t help but recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning, growth, and pure enjoyment.

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