energizing breakthrough performance

Another Look at Matrix Management: Integrated Selling For More Value

My role in these assignments is to clarify roles, relationships, rules and success factors, which permit a matrix organization to catch fire and thrive. My purpose is simple: To make it easier for people to be successful by using the organization, rather than by seeking to bypass the organization to get important decisions made and work done. When people find it easier to use the organization to get their work done as opposed to going around it, then we know that we have success in aligning structure with strategy and systems, or, as you prefer, in aligning people with purpose and process.

With that said, the challenge of matrix management, i.e., integration, cross-functionality, etc., is not so much an “intellectual” one as it is a human one. As a concept, matrix management is not rocket science. Indeed, the mistaken belief in the sufficiency of a mere “declaration” of matrix management as the new organizational order is fairly widespread. Top leaders may think “what else do you need to know?” and go on from there. This mistaken belief probably emerges from the relative simplicity of the concept when viewed from a high altitude.

Were organizations populated solely by thoughts, unfettered by human beings, the implementation-by-fiat approach would no doubt suffice. But an organization is first and foremost, people—people playing roles bonded together in relationships and observing both formal and informal rules that make it all work productively and with the least amount of destructive friction. Life is lived on the ground.

A key challenge in implementing a successful matrix organization is in helping people understand the roles, relationships, and rules and seeing themselves being successful doing work in a way that involves horizontal integration. People need training, planning facilitation, and sometimes coaching to get where they need to be.

Integration, by definition, involves the real potential of creating, selling, and delivering a bigger bundle of value. No one is “against” the bigger bundle of value. Everyone wants to see the company make more sales, bigger sales at a higher margin for the good of the whole and the individual. However, if we could have achieved grander goals by doing what we were already doing, we probably would have made it happen already. After all, we are perfectly organized to be doing what we are doing as we are doing it with the results that we are getting.

So it’s about change. Yawn …

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