Matrix Management

Matrix teams in healthcare

In this video, Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration, looks at the rise of the matrix in the healthcare industry:

Transcript: Matrix teams in healthcare

Hi I’m Kevan Hall, CEO of global integration, we are specialists in matrix management, virtual teams and global working and in the last few years we’ve seen a big rise in the use of matrix teams in the healthcare industry.

In the past these healthcare and pharmaceutical companies were organized ‘vertically’.  They had a functional organization within geography, usually a country or region.

Within the country or region the functions would include areas such as marketing, medical, regulatory, government affairs, market access and quality and then, of course, the traditional support functions such as human resources, IT, finance and legal.

Many healthcare organizations have now moved to a matrix team setup, where horizontal teams cut across the traditional vertical silos to look after a particular area such as oncology or consumer health care, or perhaps a specific brand or product.

The people leading these matrix teams now have to take a much broader view of the brand or product. Where in the past people worked within functional silos, today they need to be accountable across the organization to make sure that efforts are integrated and to avoid overlaps and gaps.

It also means that people are leading and working in cross functional teams, which tend to be more diverse. In many cases team members are in different locations and maybe from different cultures and time zones. Where matrix teams operate at a regional or global level this takes a further step up in complexity.

Decision-making in these matrix teams can become challenging. Each of the individuals are specialists in their own functional areas, so some decisions should still be taken on the basis of expertise – but, increasingly, the team becomes the decision-making unit for the overall activity. If we are not careful, everyone can be involved in everything and decision-making can become slow and ineffective.

A well-run matrix team can provide an essential end to end view of a product or brand and seems to be increasingly the structure of choice for large healthcare organizations, but ineffective matrix working can also lead to an increase in bureaucracy, delay and dissatisfaction, which none of us can afford.

Matrix team working is a big step up in complexity in the way people work together, and we need to make sure the people in matrix healthcare teams have the skills they need to succeed in this environment.

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