Matrix Monday: Designing Matrix Organizations that Actually Work

John Bland, Global Integration
John Bland, Global Integration

As part of our ‘Matrix Monday’ series, where we report back on some of the limited literature available on matrix management, John Bland, a senior Global Integration consultant, reviews Designing Matrix Organizations that Actually Work by Jay Galbraith.

This book aims to show you how to create a matrix structure and how to make that structure work.

It is worth reading for anyone with an interest in matrix structures, particularly from the point of designing them.  I’d recommend it for anyone in Organizational Development (OD) plus anyone else who has the task of designing a structure for their organization and would like to know what a matrix is, and why do it.

The book is basically in three parts.  Following a brief introduction, which covers where the matrix came from, section one covers simple matrix structures, and section two covers more complex matrices.  Then, in section three, Galbraith deals with some tips and ideas on how to make these structures work.

The best parts of this book are the first two sections where Galbraith shares his evident wide-ranging experience of various companies (many of whom are Globally renowned multinationals), which have matrix structures. He goes through each situation, case by case, covering in some detail exactly what structure a particular company chose and why they chose that structure.  In process of doing this, he also covers some aspects of how each structure worked.

He defines various sorts of matrices, such as the Two Hat Matrix Model, or the Baton Pass Matrix Model, which is interesting and enlightening, although some of the models are not sufficiently distinct for my taste and these two sections are also a bit long.

I thought section three rather weak – it looks like Galbraith has not had so much experience of making matrices work, but has been much more involved consulting with the impressive list of companies creating them.  The tips are useful, but rather generic (always difficult to be specific of course), but also somewhat lacking in a coherent structure.

The book runs to just over 250 pages.

The Matrix Monday series of blogs aims to review some of the limited literature available, and we welcome appropriate submissions for consideration. If you would like to know more, you may also find our Linked in Matrix Management Group a useful resource, or do feel free to contact us (Global Integration) to speak with John or another of our expert team.


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