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Five Not-So-Easy Pieces of Matrix Management

Five Not-So-Easy Pieces

Any organization confronts a common set of pitfalls and challenges when it seeks matrix management benefits. First, an effective matrix organization cannot be "willed" into place. Implementation efforts of briefing, training, and issues resolution are needed along the following lines:

  1. Clarify roles and matrix principles and methods, both within and outside of the internal service unit
  2. Clarify cross-divisional priorities and implemented a streamlined forum for priority setting and resource allocation.
  3. Clarify internal, cross-divisional partnership agreements
  4. Improve the response capability of internal service personnel assigned to the matrix
  5. Smooth cultural transitions involved in moving to a matrix form

Beginning with aircraft manufacture four decades ago and continuing with companies from ABB to Black & Decker and Xerox, matrix approaches yield significant benefits related to meeting ever-increasing needs for speed, complexity, customer focus, and more efficient organizational learning. However, significant benefits require significant work to avoid the typical pitfalls which are capable of collapsing the best of intentions, namely:

  • Unclear roles, responsibilities, objectives, and accountable performance metrics
  • "Dueling Priorities" when vertical and horizontal goals and objectives are not aligned
  • Key Result Areas/Critical Success Factors are unclear or uncommunicated
  • Lazy communications rather than rapid, "rifleshot" communications
  • Unknown or unclear priorities
  • Unknown and/or unmanaged resource constraints

Five major thrusts can reduce these risks, as spelled out on the following pages.

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