Matrix Management

Helping Sarah or the planet?

I was in Denmark last week working with and visiting a couple of our clients there. Both of them do a great job of finding and communicating the purpose behind what they do and why people work there.

  • Vestas make wind turbines and keep their people focused on the message of sustainability. They are also very proud of their product and even had small model wind turbines on the training room tables this week.
  • Leo Pharma are in dermatology and they have great program called “helping Sarah” where, throughout their offices and in nearly all of the senior leadership communication I’ve seen, they focus on what they are doing to help particular named customers with a particular skin condition. It really keeps people focused on what matters. The images and stories of these real people are visible throughout the business and these customers are encouraged to visit the offices and tell their stories.

In a complex and fast-moving organization there are many different entities competing for our time and attention; the business unit, the function and the geography. Whilst the matrix is designed to encourage work to flow horizontally across the traditional silos, there are so many moving parts that it can be difficult to get your head up and really focus on what matters. Keeping a focus on something bigger than our local agendas, metrics and goals is essential.

Keeping the focus on the customer, a great product or an external goal such as sustainability give us something we can all both aspire to and contribute to. More corporate aspirations of “maximizing shareholder value” tend not get the blood pumping in the same way. When we face discussions around prioritization or the allocation of scarce resources or attention, a clear focus on the bigger picture really makes things easier.

What is the bigger picture in your organization that brings people out of their silos?

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