Many of our clients call us after they have introduced a matrix organization structure.They have worked hard on the strategy and structure and then they find that it is the quality of implementation of systems and skills that take the time and effort and that define success.
Matrix management institutes major change in the nature of leadership and collaboration. Where in the past leadership was based on presence, visibility and control, today matrix managers realise they can’t be present all the time and are not best placed to control activity. Matrix teams have to build trust and get things done without meeting face to face. These are major changes to traditional ways of working that require a new skillset and mindset.
Aligned systems and processes do help, and organizations spend many millions and many years implementing SAP or similar systems to make their business more integrated. However these systems do not resolve the enduring tensions between the vertical and the horizontal, they don’t ensure cooperation or change leadership behaviours.
If we look at the disadvantages and pitfalls of instituting matrix management they are usually about lack of alignment, increased bureaucracy and meetings, delays in decision making or increased ambiguity. All of these are about changing the skills, way of working and capabilities of people, not about creating some all encompassing system for resolving every eventuality.
Despite this, few invest anything like as significantly in skills as they do in systems
Without an alignment between strategy, structure, systems and skills any organizational change initiative will fail. This is a change initiative, not just a new set of organization charts.
Instituting matrix management is not an overnight process. It requires focus over time and it requires changes in the culture and ways of working of the organization. There are some predictable and preventable pitfalls from the many hundreds of organizations who have instituted matrix management already – its a structure used by over 90% of leading multinationals.
If you would like to learn from the experiences of many other organizations on how to implement matrix management successfully, why not give us a call?