Matrix Management

Matrix Monday: Matrix Management – Ripe for Chaos?

Today sees the first ‘Matrix Monday’ on the Global Integration blog.  There is nowhere near enough good material on matrix management available, so that we thought we’d start to share some of the available resources we find, and hope others will do the same – contact us to suggest submissions. We’ll share on Twitter using the hastag #matmo.

The first in this series of article summaries is Matrix management: recipe for chaos? When it works, it works well. When it doesn’t, it’s a fast track to disaster. The strengths of the model appeal to many corporations today, but not all are suited for a matrix structure, by Rita E. Numerof, Michael N. Abrams (Copyright 2002 Directors and Boards), submitted for Matrix Monday by Global Integration CEO, Kevan Hall.

This  short article  introduces matrix management: when the matrix structure should be employed, what its drawbacks are, and the creation of a successful matrix.

The authors summarise three key drivers in evaluating when a matrix is suitable for use:

– complexity of products and services to be delivered

– the customer demand for integrated services

– what organizational pressures exist to reduce cost.

The authors emphasise that an  improperly developed matrix will – as with most other structures – exacerbate organizational problems.

The issues they highlight are:

– employees: having a lack of clear expectations; misaligned accountability and rewards

– management: inability to resolve power struggles and/or to communicate clearly among various groups.

In order to create a successful matrix, increase effectiveness and reduce liabilities, the authors suggest that factors include clearly defining the matrix structure, considering organizational culture and suitability of employees towards this way of working,  and ensuring that accountability of management and staff is established.

The authors also refer briefly to ‘The Emergence of the Matrix’ (Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning), which looks at the evolution of the matrix structure, and the ‘dotted line’ manager comes in for disapproval.

This week’s one line words of wisdom, extracted?

“Acceptance of the structure is more likely if training includes conflict management and effective negotiation and influencing skills, and role clarity occurs.”

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