Breaking through the silos with virtual teams

One of the key reasons that companies introduce a matrix organization structure is to break down the traditional vertical “silos” that characterised past, less integrated organizations.

But the legacy systems, relationships and rewards often get in the way of developing matrix and virtual teams that cut across these silos.

In the early days of matrix and virtual teams it is common for the P&L to be local, rewards and objectives to be local. If the organization now tries to work more horizontally across the silos without changing these systems the existing legacy and power of the silos can be hard to resist.

Initially virtual teams are used to try to connect across the silos – this is a form of “matrix working” and exists in almost every complex organization.

The next step, whether to move to a matrix structure with more than one reporting line, is often made to rectify the lack of power of the virtual team or project leader relative the the old silo power structure.

In many cases we could achieve the same objective by more careful alignment of systems, rewards and objectives without necessarily introducing the complexity of additional reporting lines.

How easy is it to work across silos in your organization? What helps or gets in the way?

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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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