The 6C’s Matrix Management Model

The six C's matrix management model

Many of our clients ask us for an overall matrix management model, something that brings together the key elements of managing in this environment in a clear and understandable way.

Our model is based around 6C’s – context, clarity, cooperation, communication, control and community, and has evolved over the years. (You can find more about this in our CEO Kevan Hall’s two books, ‘Speed Lead’ and Making the Matrix Work).

Context – many organizations fail to communicate the context of their structure well, yet this is fundamental to success. Do people understand why they have a matrix, how it works and the rationale behind it? If not, they tend to think it is the latest flavour of the month, to keep their heads down and assume a new reorganization will come along in a couple of months.

Clarity – this way of working is a deliberate choice to trade some clarity in return for more flexibility. We need to make things clear where we can, to clarify goals and roles to a certain extent. But not everything will be as clear when we need to be able to manage multiple bosses, ambiguity, trade-offs, dilemmas and even conflict.

Cooperation – many organizations set up this structure to increase cooperation across the traditional silos, but be careful what you wish for! This can lead to higher levels of low quality cooperation. We identify four distinct ways of cooperating, how to organise them effectively and support them through technology. We show people how to avoid the over connection trap with of too many poor quality meetings, conference calls and e-mails.

Control – in complex organizations we are dependent on people we do not control and there are many factors that can subtly undermine trust – working across distance, cultural differences, communicating through technologies, misaligned goals, etc. When trust is undermined, managers tend to increase control. We show people how to build trust in a virtual world, empower others, deal with accountability without control and exercise influence without authority.

Communication – we are communicating mainly through technology and often across cultures and time zones. We need to choose and use the right technology for the right task, and the right mode of cooperation. We need to understand communication across cultures and create participation and engagement when communicating online. We also need to understand the role of social media in supporting this way of working.

Community – we need to build community in an environment where we rarely meet face-to-face, where we have a diverse group of colleagues, where we have divided loyalties to the global and local, and where our work may not be visible to the people who sit next to us. Building a sense of community, identity and common spirit is essential to success.

image, matrix management explained


The six elements of this model fit together to offer an overall approach to the complex skills needed to make the structure actually work.

But beneath the six C’s – and what drives the success of this way of working – is the ‘matrix mindset’: the attitudes and beliefs that enable us to succeed in this complex environment rather than to feel a victim of it.

The mindset and skill set are intimately linked. If we don’t have the skills to be successful in this environment, we won’t develop a positive mindset around it. Success in our model is not about structure. Once you have dual reporting lines, the structure solves nothing: it simply creates an environment in which we develop the skills and ways of working that enable us to be successful.

Why not…?


Last updated December 2013


Newsletter Signup - Free tips & updates straight to your inbox