Step 3  Simplifying your matrix organization structure: Choose the simplest form of matrix working that meets your needs.

The third principle in designing and fine-tuning your matrix structure is always choosing the simplest form of matrix working that meets your needs.

If coordination through simple group structures, informal teams and shared process will meet your objective, you may not need the additional complexity of multiple reporting lines

A few large global accounts get a lot of attention and so there is a lot of focus on common systems and processes in the business. The reality is, however, that 80% of our customers are purely local. They don’t care about our global capabilities and the additional costs and complexity they bring can sometimes stop us competing effectively at a local level.
National Account Manager, Office Services, Europe.

Many organizations however, experience a progressive increase in complexity in dealing with global customers. It rarely goes in the opposite direction.

A major client used to buy from us quite locally and there was relatively little need for us to coordinate or share information. Over time they started to get their act together. We realized we needed to speak with a common voice on issues like pricing and contract terms. We put together a virtual team to agree this. However, the client was not particularly internally coordinated themselves and initially, provided their purchasing people were happy the operation of the account was handled locally.

 Then they introduced a new regime where they wanted a single point of contact worldwide. We had to decide who in the organization had the authority to speak on behalf of all markets. This was a much tougher decision. A formal global account manager was appointed and anyone working on that account worldwide had a dotted line into the global account manager. However, the P&L was local and this drove most of our behaviours and priorities.

As soon as we consolidated the numbers it was clear that this particular global account was important enough to deserve a lot of focus. They are also quite high profile and as they have come to realize the scale of their purchase from us they have also become more demanding. We have no choice but to deliver a consistent product and service worldwide.

As the importance of the account increased the global account manager took on more organizational influence and soon had a solid line relationship with anyone working on the account worldwide. There is even talk now of having a dedicated global account organization, which is entirely structured globally and owns the P&L for specific large accounts, leaving the smaller national customers to be handled a country level.

(Global Account Manager, Speciality Chemicals, Switzerland)

Organizations need to identify the networks, communities, teams and groups they need to have in place to be successful. Matrix and cross functional working is now the norm in many large organizations but the form of matrix organization structure you choose depends on the precise nature of your business.

We have learned that structure really solves nothing in complex organizations, it is the skills and capabilities and how people work together in matrix – matrix management –  that makes the difference.

Why not….?

  • Contact us to see how we can help identifying the networks, communities, teams and groups you need to have in place for your particular matrix to be successful.
  • Read more about matrix management.
  • Join our ‘Matrix Management’ group on LinkedIn.
  • Request our ‘Matrix management’ white paper.

There’s a handy form to the right of this page (when viewed on most devices) or contact your closest Global Integration regional office.

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: .

Contact us now to find out more or speak to one of our specialists