Matrix Management

Matrix and multiple team membership is everywhere

Eye GlassesA recent McKinsey article “Revisiting the matrix organization” quoted a 2015 Gallup survey that found that 84% of respondents were at least slightly matrixed.

Despite the host of articles you will see on the web declaring the matrix dead or irrelevant our experience is that the matrix is the way of working of choice for the vast majority of the world’s leading organizations.

Some academics insist that the matrix only exists where you have multiple reporting lines, but our experience is that most companies and practitioners are using the word matrix to describe “horizontal” work.

Any time you’re working horizontally across the traditional vertical silos of functions and geography, whether you have formal reporting lines are not, you are using a “matrix way of working”. This way of working is common almost everywhere and nearly all value creation cuts horizontally across a modern organization.

In the McKinsey article, they found that:

• 49% worked on multiple teams some days (matrix working)
• 18% percent served on multiple teams every workday but with different people, though mostly reporting to the same manager (matrix working.
• 17% reported to different managers in their work with different teams (matrix structure)

Multiple team membership is now extremely common in our own work our participants on virtual, matrix and global workshops tell us that on average they are a member of four teams.

This has big implications for prioritization and the nature of collaboration. If you are working on four teams, each with 10 members, then you have a huge collaborative load to maintain just to stay in contact with people. Each of these people will also send you emails and other forms of information and invite you to meetings.

The more you are part of multiple teams, the more important it is to streamline the form of collaboration you are using. In our experience teams are overused and drive demands for too many unnecessary synchronous meetings. Simpler, what we call “star group” ways of working can reduce this collaborative load and simplify collaboration.
The matrix way of working and multiple team membership are now the norm, does your learning and development curriculum prepare people for these additional challenges?

If not why not contact us and find out how you can develop the skills to be successful in this more complex environment?

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