energizing breakthrough performance

Designing the Successful Matrix Organization: 18 Critical Decisions

Author: ; Published: Apr 7, 2010; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments»

Designing a matrix management structure is not a “one size fits all” proposition.  The key issues that emerge when moving to a matrix structure surround a thirst for clarity at every level of the organization. Employees want to know: “What am I supposed to do differently?”; “How does an arrangement where I report to more than one boss actually work?” Leadership wants to know what it can do to usher the new structure into place – with minimal resistance and maximum speed and success. There are roles, rules and tools that make a matrix structure work successfully. These need to be designed systematically and with all due diligence if matrix management success is to be achieved.

Strategic Futures helps clients in the formative stages of matrix management by framing the 18 key decisions that need to be made, emphatically steering the client away from known perils – towards successful, proven practices.

Here’s the thing: These 18 formative decisions are largely invisible to organizations setting out on the matrix management journey. The good news is that key decisions are known to Strategic Futures because of our work with dozens and dozens of clients in a full spectrum of industries over many years. Explicit and conscious decision-making concerning these key issues saves our clients time, money, and frustration in very significant ways. No amount of recasting matrix management as “the new matrix” or “the blended matrix” or other such new-and-improved spins will exempt you from making these critical decisions. 

There’s more good news: Decision outputs can then be imported into future briefings and training for staff that builds employee understanding and confidence in accomplishing great things using an agile matrix structure that makes the highest-and-best use of all available talent.  You don’t want to be in a position of telling management and staff that “we’ll get back to you on that,” or “we hadn’t thought about that, we’ll have to think about this.”

No one has all the answers all of the time, but a failure to think ahead should be an episodic event, rather than a chronic condition.

That’s where we come in.

Matrix Management: Not a Flavor of the Month

Author: ; Published: Mar 5, 2010; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , , , ; No Comments»

When it comes to designing and implementing a fully successful matrix organization, the old adage of “in for a dime, in for a dollar” comes to mind. Changes in organizational structure are not to be taken lightly.  Structural changes have enormous consequences for organizations and the people who labor in them. Everyone has the same question, “what am I supposed to do differently?” Answering this question in a definitive way that mines the considerable benefits of matrix management – and builds both competence and confidence –  takes time and deliberate effort. 

Implementation of structural change cannot nor need not take forever.  Indeed, the more systematic your approach to making these changes, the better off you will be. Progress can be and should be rapid. As our articles, Matrix Management: Method, Not Magic and Five Not-So-Easy Pieces of Matrix Management explain in more detail, effective matrix management requires planning, clarification of roles, and supportive training for standing up the matrix organization and occasionally refreshing employees at all levels as to roles, rules, tools, and the winning behaviors required for success.

A “launch-and-abandon” approach to designing, implementing or even refining your matrix organization is a formula for disappointment. Planning, persistence and follow-through are essential. By launch and abandon, we mean any major initiative announced by senior management and then left to its own devices with little or no additional investment or reinforcement.

These are hyper times. These are difficult times. Everywhere I look, I see employees striving harder than ever before to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Employees are energized, gravitating rapidly in synch with the direction that the organization seems to be moving – with the speed akin to moths moving towards a new light source.

Given the environment in which we find ourselves, it becomes all the more critical that our decisions and actions – particularly those related to structure – be sure-footed and first-time-final.  While some might argue that flavors of the month were affordable during those Halcyon days of greater resource abundance, there can be little doubt that such dalliances are no longer affordable today.

If you are in pursuit of the considerable benefits that matrix management can provide, e.g., better goal focus, customer focus, improved capacity utilization, synergy, organizational creativity and the like, then you are definitely “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”

If you are in the mood for a flavor of the month, matrix management is not the right flavor for you.