The 4th trend we see in managing in matrix organizations is a move toward higher levels of central control. This tends to lead to lower levels of empowerment and slower speed of response in companies with matrix organization structures.
There are many factors in complex companies that subtly undermine confidence and trust – when people do not respond as you expect, are they being uncooperative or is it time zones, distance, cultural differences etc.. that make them respond differently than you expect?
Of our 1200 Speed Survey participants – 34% think their company currently has too much central control (only 17% think too little) and 43% think the trend is towards more central control.
Unfortunately central control can lead to delay, cost and frustration as local people become dis-empowered and high levels of escalation back to the centre make the organization unresponsive and unable to make best use of local capabilities.
We think the problem is one of trust in local capability but we also believe that the right place to control is fast and close to the action.
Powerful trends towards centralization including a tough economic situation and regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley are making things worse.
The key to effective decentralization of control is to build capability first (you don’t want to empower idiots!) by building skill we build confidence and it is then easier to delegate and give real autonomy.
When we give autonomy we can expect more from our people and exercise real, immediate control at a local level – not 6 weeks later at HQ.
How do you deal with the control / autonomy dilemma in your matrix organization?