Eight trends in matrix management #3. The open matrix.

Large matrix organizations have to cope with high levels of internal and external complexity. Frequently the need for matrix management extends outside of the boundaries of the traditional organization to encompass customers, partners and suppliers.

Matrix management now often involves higher levels of cooperation and integration with customers, sometimes co-developing products and services and building highly integrated teams and information systems.

More integrated supply chains mean that organisations share information and work cooperatively with partners and suppliers to deliver value to customers. These relationships can become highly interdependent and very stable.

For these organizations,  matrix management extends across boundaries of organizational culture and also has to reflect commercial considerations.

We don’t see our suppliers as being in an arm’s-length, purely commercial relationship. They are responsible for the co-development of whole modules of our products. They are specialists in a particular area and we work with them to come up with components which are based on their expertise but particular to our needs so they are an integral part of our product development process. Some of them have set up manufacturing facilities specifically located to serve our plants in Japan and USA and are holding inventory for us and delivering it ‘just in time’ to our production line.

Supply Chain VP,  Auto Industry, Japan

Our Information Systems take data we gather from customer purchases, and send it all along our internal supply chain and through to our suppliers. It is essential that we have transparent information flow across a very large supply base. It requires a level of mutual trust and a high level of integration of our systems, but it’s the only way we can make such a complex supply chain work.

Operations director, Retail, UK

We are increasingly finding ourselves facilitating workshops between different commercial partners in an integrated supply chain. These organizations realize that matrix teams routinely cross organizational boundaries and need to find common ways of working despite different corporate cultures and commercial considerations.

Successful matrix management and matrix working requires us to consider the effectiveness of the whole system, not just the parts that fall within our formal organization chart and direct control.

Why not…?

  • Find out more about training for matrix managers working with external partners.
  • Join our matrix management group on LinkedIn. On most devices, you’ll find a hand link through to the right of this page.

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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