energizing breakthrough performance

Rent the Stadium!

Author: ; Published: May 21, 2015; Category: Collaboration, Leadership; Tags: ; No Comments»

The CEO of a scientific enterprise decided that the organizational culture needed to change. After years of autocratic rule, there was a pent-up need to make the culture more inclusionary and participative, moving away from a strict “need-to-know” basis characteristic of a rigid hierarchy. Meetings came to involve progressively larger numbers of people. Smaller conference rooms fell into disuse as larger conference rooms were booked week in and week out. Absent complete consensus, no decision was made. Decisional gridlock grew worse. Sometimes it would seem that a decision had been reached only to find that a “huddle after the huddle” caused it to unravel or be reversed several days later.  More people were getting involved but fewer decisions were being made. The decisions that were reached were less certain and sturdy, more diluted than anyone wanted. What’s more, staff feared exclusion because career well-being was perceived as revolving around visibility at meetings rather than around genuine contribution.

 

As the organization lost faith in its ability to move quickly, every move, no matter how minor, involved a large entourage. Results-oriented people were finding ways to circumvent the crowds and get things done “their own way.” As each faction pursued solutions in its own way, nascent anarchy picked up a head of steam.

 

Top executives became fixated on the process of inclusion and on minimizing discontent. The process of setting strategic priorities, e.g., deciding what not to do, allocating resources, aligning talent, etc., was getting lost.

 

Who can be against transparency and inclusion? It builds a future generation of leadership and confers additional benefits. On the other hand, renting the stadium to ensure that everyone has been included is not sustainable for all issues all of the time.

 

The solution was to adopt a Decision Process Model for making, ratifying, and communicating decisions and to clarify roles and responsibilities with precision sufficient to target meeting attendance with greater parsimony. The model pre-specified types of decisions where complete consensus is necessary vs. alternate forms of decision-making process, authority and accountability. When roles are poorly defined, there is no sharp edge for cutting meeting attendance to the vital few, and no basis for avoiding rent-the-stadium syndrome. Even good intentions can have unintended consequences, which must be managed promptly before things get out of hand.

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

Matrix Management/Matrix Leadership

Author: ; Published: Sep 26, 2013; Category: Collaboration, Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management, Uncategorized; Tags: None; One Comment»

What’s the difference between leadership and management? The short answer is that leaders make sure that the right things are being done and managers focus on things being done right.  The most valued people tend to be those who can both lead and manage.

 

How are leadership and management responsibilities distributed in a balanced matrix organization? Functional (vertical) senior personnel are primarily responsible for managing the resources and methods for their discipline.  Matrix team (horizontal) senior personnel are primarily responsible for leading cross-functional efforts to achieve specified outcomes.  That’s the classic formulation of roles in a well-designed matrix organization.

 

That said, the word “primarily” becomes especially important to this discussion.  Vertical senior personnel are primarily responsible for managing resources and approaches but they also have leadership responsibilities, just as horizontal senior personnel have primary responsibilities for leading cross-functional efforts but also secondary responsibilities for managing resources which have been matrixed to their team.

 

Neither vertical nor horizontal key personnel can abdicate their secondary responsibilities. Indeed, a matrix organization works best when there is constructive tension between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the enterprise. However, when differences in priorities emerge, which they will inevitably, the primary responsibilities associated with the respective vertical and horizontal roles must govern final decision-making authority.  If roles and rules blur or are suspended or even abandoned, the most common complaints hurled at poorly designed and managed matrix organizations will, unfortunately, play out.

 

The journey to optimum decision-making requires a blend of collaboration, competition, and sometimes conflict through which the vetting of alternatives, contingencies, and potential unintended consequences occurs. This journey is best accomplished when horizontal leaders are capable of thinking and acting as managers and vertical managers are capable of thinking and acting as leaders. Such reciprocal empathy is the basis of healthy communication in any enterprise.

 

The benefits of constructive tension can only be harvested when there is strong role clarity in your matrix organization.  Otherwise, destructive tension or potential chaos aka “the battle of the personalities” tends to break out. Leaders can and should have the freedom to make managerial contributions and managers can and should have the freedom to make leadership contributions when they are comfortable and competent in their respective horizontal and vertical roles. While it is sometimes difficult for some senior personnel to leave the comfort zone of the pre-matrix days when they possessed a combination of horizontal and vertical prerogatives, the transition from this historical comfort zone to the matrix organization’s power and agility delivers considerable and cumulative advantages. Stated differently, what may have seemed like a loss of status to some as the matrix was implemented later ends up delivering substantial increases in focused organizational power and impact…but you won’t get there without role clarity.

 

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

Matrix Management: Avoid the Activity Trap by Using the Matching Principle

Author: ; Published: Aug 5, 2013; Category: Collaboration, Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management, Mentoring, Uncategorized; Tags: None; No Comments»

Faster, better, cheaper summarizes the top strategic priority for nearly every enterprise. That said, we can sometimes forget that achieving better and cheaper, let alone breakthrough innovation and differentiation, requires episodic changes in organizational and personal speed. Stated differently, we must sometimes slow down in order to speed up if we are to make quality and cost containment improvements. A single, chronic, unvarying speed is not appropriate to all circumstances.

 

It seems to me that we too often set our velocity – organizationally and personally – calibrated to the velocity of incoming messages on our handheld device. This can result in an activity trap that is more mind-numbing than mindful.. Stated in vehicular terms, an automobile which only had one speed – apart from “stopped” – would either be hitting other vehicles or being hit by other vehicles all too often. Such collisions happen in organizations as well and yet many of us act surprised at the consequences of incessant racing.  Matrix management success requires the ability to adjust speed deftly if only because cross-functional teams are sharing resources more intricately than in a siloed hierarchy.

 

There’s a matching principle in finance, which requires that we match long-term financing with long-term debt.  There’s also a matching principle in accounting. That said, there’s a matching principle for management which is highly important in exercising leadership in a high-performance matrix organization. This matching principle is evidenced by and consistent with MBTI and other personality profile approaches and instruments.

 

A practical, simplified view of these useful instruments is that there are times to be more task-focused than people-focused and vice versa.  Similarly, there are times to be caffeinated and there are times to be de-caffeinated. If the executive needs to be in an analytic mode, the correct flex is towards the de-caffeinated/task focused approach.  If we are coaching an employee to higher performance, we need to take a de-caffeinated/people-focused approach. If we are seeking the outer limits of innovation, we need “big sky” thinking that is caffeinated and a mix of tasks and people, with emphasis on bringing out people’s best thinking.  Finally, if we are prosecuting a sturdy and established agenda, the caffeinated task-focused approach generally works best.

 

Deft leadership of the matrix organization requires that leaders flex their velocity and focus depending on the nature of the challenge.  This is true in a traditional hierarchy, but it is even truer in a well-tuned, more sensitive and interdependent matrix organization. One size doesn’t fit all, and one speed doesn’t either. It’s easy to forget this management matching principle at today’s speed of business but consider this: There are going to be times when you will be better off if you slow down now to speed up later.

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