Many organizations introduce matrix management in order to be faster and more flexible and to share resources across the organization.
But matrix management, by definition, introduces another strand of reporting and coordination across the organization that lies on top of the previous vertical lines of reporting to functions, geographies etc..
A feature of matrix management is that this can lead to additional meetings, conference calls and emails and the proliferation of reporting and coordination mechanisms – this can make matrix management the opposite of lean (fat?)
A lot of the bad press that matrix management has experienced in the past is because this layer of complexity and coordination has been additive. In order for matrix management to be lean we have to simultaneously simplify the way we work in the matrix.
Luckily a lot of the cooperation, communication and control in a traditional organization is completely unnecessary and can safely be discarded and replaced with a more streamlined and decentralized form or matrix management.
The problem is that people management techniques developed for simpler times can make matrix management worse. Beyond a certain level of complexity more teamwork, meetings and conference calls make things worse. In matrix management we have to challenge these outdated assumptions in order to be both lean and matrixed.
It is not that matrix management is necessarily fat and wasteful, or that lean is always the best answer – it is about how we organize ourselves to be more effective.
What is your experience, can matrix management be lean management too?