Agile & Digital / Matrix Management

Can you help with a quote for Making the Matrix Work Second Edition

It’s 10 years since we published our bestselling book Making the Matrix Work. In preparation for the second edition, subtitled “the agile remix” due out in September, we are looking for comments from people who have enjoyed the book or our matrix management training that we can add to the cover.

If you have a comment on the book or our training and you are happy for us to use publicly it would be great if you could add it in comments below or send us a direct message.

Ten years ago, most organisations were still in the throes of restructuring and rebuilding after the financial crash. There was a lot of focus on creating a more integrated matrix organisation to deliver cost synergies, divert money to common global projects and processes and to centralise business functions and business units.

There was nothing in the first edition that suggested that the matrix needed to be centralised. In fact the whole point of the matrix is to allow flexibility to incorporate both the global and the local, the business unit, the geography and the function. However, the 2010s were characterised by a lot of centralization.

Sometimes this was deliberate, more often the establishment of global functions and larger business units lead to unconscious centralisation as each new entity tried to establish its mandate and place in the world. This was often accompanied by a blizzard of new central initiatives and processes, what we call initiative overload.

The matrix was often blamed for this centralisation although centralization is not caused by the matrix, it is a separate decision.

In the last 10 years the organisations that pursued centralisation unsurprisingly then found that they had reduced their local flexibility. Many turned to agile working as a way of creating very focused teams “protected” from the complexity around them. In some cases they succeeded in creating agile silos where autonomous teams were highly resistant to collaborating or taking into account the people around them.

Agile pioneers introduced concepts like chapters, guilds and squads but they continued to do the work traditionally done by functions, business units and teams, so the matrix remained.

Agile also pretty much ignored the structures that happened above the level of the team and tended to have little use for middle management.

In our second edition we will try to find the balance between the connectedness and integration of the matrix and the flexibility and responsiveness of agile working. They can actually fit well together.

In the run up to COVID, organisations had started to realise that part of the objective of the matrix was to find the balance of the global and the local ,of coordination and flexibility, and this has become the focus of our work.

In the last 12 months as geopolitical and economic risks have increased we are again seeing a wave of restructuring. If you have any kind of complex multidimensional or multi-business unit or international organisation it’s likely that something very like the matrix will be the solution.

Periods of market turmoil often lead to a further process of centralization, but most organisations are keen to increase innovation, so it will be interesting to see how the matrix adapts to this

If you are new to the matrix and need to build the skills to succeed in a more complex environment or if you have an existing matrix where you’re trying to find the right balance of flexibility and consistency please take a look at our matrix management training programs. If you are struggling to find how agile works in leadership and management, please give us a call.

If you know our work already we would love to get a comment from you to add to the jacket of the second edition. We appreciate any comments.

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