A senior leader from the healthcare industry described his matrix structure at one of our workshops recently as “sacrificing focus for synergy”. It’s a phrase that neatly sums up the need for balance in a matrix.
The historic, simple ‘vertical’ structure of functions and geography gave focus and efficiency within their narrow silos. But business and work today refuses to fit into these neat silos.
Global communication means that what happens in one market is visible globally. Supply chains, business processes and functions cut across the World.
Many introduce a ‘matrix management’ style of work in order to break these silos and make the company more ‘joined up’ in the search for synergies. But if we go too far, we dilute the focus that made us efficient and fast.
In business, we always have a commercial filter that can keep us focused, but we need to keep this filter in the front of our minds
In the search to be more connected and create synergies, we should not forget that the point is not more teamwork or more synergies: it is to make the business better.
Just because we can bring new products to new geographies or share common processes, does not automatically mean that we should. We still have to make sure that it is economic, and profitable and moves us forward. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a real synergy.
It’s easy to say we will only pursue the elusive “win:win” but the pressure to globalize and have common systems can easily lead us to ride rough-shod over local objections – and some of those objections may be valid.
It’s important for leaders to ensure that those sought after synergies are valuable enough to outweigh the dilution of focus.