Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Getting things done, despite your corporate culture

I was in San Francisco last week and visited a couple of CEOs in silicon valley.

During our conversations both of them identified particularly successful projects within the matrix organisations as great examples of collaboration.

In both cases these were discrete projects to deliver a new product or process and they set up dedicated teams that cut across their field nation and business units with a strong focus to deliver.

Both of them decided to insulate these project teams from the traditional organisation, in one case even allocating it space in a separate building. Both of them waxed lyrical about the achievement and focus of these teams which outstripped their expectations on quality and time.

However what struck me was the question “what’s wrong with our organisational structure and culture that the only way to be really successful is to insulate an activity from it?”

Many companies I work with have similar stories. The traditional silos were designed in a different era to play a different game, the game of resource allocation and hierarchical  control. As work changes the systems need to change to reflect this reality.

You can’t imagine a digital team working on an urgent activity to have to pause for every individual member to escalate for permission through their individual hierarchies or for each individual function to have to provide a budget to get that part of the work done.

As matrix and digital transformations proceed we are seeing more and more the conflict between the realities of work and the legacy power and control mechanisms. We need some other forms of resource allocation and governance that do not flow vertically.

We are seeing a divergence between the way we structure activity and the way we manage things like capability building, a sense of community and governance.

As work becomes more cross functional and more matrixed how are you seeing it conflict with the traditional power and control structures in your organisation?

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