energizing breakthrough performance

Matrix Management: Method, Not Magic

Another ingredient required for success is that the participants in a matrix organization must have a clear sense of the goals, objectives, and accountable performance metrics. There must be both vertical and horizontal alignment of goals, objectives, and metrics if the matrix is to function properly. Misalignment, competition or conflict among managers’ goals, objectives, and metrics will create gridlock in the matrix—across functions, across locations, or all of the above and more.

 

Gridlock occurs, the matrix can readily degenerate, melting into personalities and power politics. If the matrix lacks an explicit, rational foundation, then politics—the human way of solving problems and allocating resources when rational means don’t work—come into play, with all of the attendant organizational dysfunction that unbridled politics typically bring.

Rich and rapid communications about issues that matter are essential to the success of the matrix organization. Without such communications, the vertical and horizontal lines of the matrix will sag, as will the spirits, talents, and contributions of the people in the matrix To make communications matter, there needs to be a shared view of the benefits, the advantages of the matrix organization.

 

Potential benefits may include advantages such as:

  • A reduction in the number of organizational levels, resulting in a flattened hierarchy.
  • An elimination of unnecessary work that fails to add value to the enterprise, particularly "coordinative" and "checkers-checking-checkers" kind of work.
  • An organization design based on processes which add genuine value, such as product development or order entry, rather than functions or departments that may become process-obsessed or narcissistic.
  • A structure which is capable of bringing focus and power to the management of change and to rapid agility within the Firm.
  • The use of management across and diagonally in the Firm. Managing the "white spaces" between traditional vertical lines is the real payoff because organizational boundaries can be reduced or blurred as core processes are performed more efficiently and effectively.
  • Greater professional development opportunities afforded by rich interaction with other disciplines.
  • More self-management and a wider realm of work in the jobs.
  • Higher-and-better use of staff time and talent.
  • Stark illumination of resource constraints with a corresponding requirement to set priorities in an explicit way.
  • More rapid team-based elimination of work that fails to add value to the enterprise.
  • Yes, there is more, but not now…

If the benefits of the matrix organization are unknown to the participants, the organizational design may take on a "flavor-of-the-month" characteristic. If the potential benefits are perceived, but participants haven’t figured out how to function together to access these benefits, there will be frustration, cynicism, and great opportunities for the Dilbert cynic-voyeur.

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