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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.