Many companies introduced a matrix organizational structure in order to connect people across the tradtional vertical orgnaizational silos. The objective was to increase cooperation, communication and coordination across the business.

What many organizations have learned is that increased connectedness leads to increased complexity.

I was watching a documentary last night where some complexity theorists were commenting on the credit crunch. They made this point clearly. Once you take a number of elements or systems and connect them together they start to behave less predictably. The tighter they are connected (through automated trading for example) the more chaotic this movement can appear.

It’s the same with people at work; if we are tightly connected and interdependent a number of small individual changes in the way of working can be magnified and cause a lot of change and churn.

A high level of connectedness inside complex matrix organizational structures is inevitable and necessary – but it can and has gone too far.

Symptoms of unnecessary connectedness include

  • too much cooperation– unnecessary meetings, conference calls and teams for everything
  • out of control communication – too many pointless emails, calls and reports
  • too much centralized control –  dynamic systems require decentralized decision making, and management control is increasing.

In order to create the time and space for necessary connections and coordination we need to radically simplify cooperative working in these three areas – otherwise we will all be so busy cooperating will never be able to get any work done.

By driving out unnecessary connectedness in our matrix organizational structure we can also reduce unnecessary change and complexity.

Find out more about our structured Speed Lead approach to simplifying connectedness.

See more resources on working in complex matrix organizational structures.

About the author:

Kevan Hall Kevan Hall is a CEO, author, speaker and trainer in matrix management, virtual teams and global working. He is the author of "Speed Lead - faster, simpler ways to manage people, projects and teams in complex companies, "Making the Matrix work - how matrix managers engage people and cut through complexity", and the "Life in a Matrix" podcasts, videos, cartoons and blog. He is CEO and founder of Global Integration. Company profile: .

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