Matrix Management

New Year New Matrix

No it’s not the new movie in the matrix series, though sometimes working in a matrix can feel like a choice between the red and the blue pill (if you are not a fan, look it up).

This blog is about the strong upsurge in interest in our matrix management training we have seen over the last couple of months.

It seems that there is a wave of organisational change and restructuring waiting to happen or newly under way. Many organisations seem to have held off on making these changes whilst their employees were on furlough. As the return to office gets closer (though delayed by Omicron) they can’t wait any longer.

Welcome to The Matrix

Firstly, we are seeing a wave of new organisations introducing a “matrixed way of working”. This may or may not include multiple reporting lines, but it certainly includes multiple team working and much more horizontal collaboration across the traditional silos.

These organisations are usually driven by the need to create a more integrated and cost-effective organisation for a post-pandemic world. They need to share resources and learning, and cost reduction is often a factor. However, an even bigger driver is the realisation that work no longer fits neatly into the old-fashioned silos of function and geography or product group. Matrix management is the solution.

For some the experience of widespread remote working for the first time illustrated to them the need for better cross functional collaboration. It also showed the value of connecting to the best person for the task across the organisation, rather than the person who happened to be in your office.

Some of these are surprisingly small organisations with only a few hundred employees.

The Matrix Reloaded

The second trend we are seeing is a wave of evolutions in organisations that have had matrix management at some level in the past but are now becoming much more integrated.

These organisations are often driven by digital transformation or moving towards a more customer centric structure. Neither of these respect traditional organizational boundaries and work needs to cut laterally across the organisation.

Many are driving the matrix deeper into their structure with, for example more central control over global functions and major accounts and this changes the balance of power between the centre and the regions or countries within the organisation.

This often leads to more centralization, which is not usually the intent of the reorganisation. However, it is what often happens in practise as the new entities try to establish their control and mandate.

Many of the more mature matrix organisations are also looking to find new ways to make their matrix management more agile and flexible. They are experiencing too many meetings, slow decision making and a lack of clarity and accountability – the matrix doesn’t need to be this way, but we do need new skills to navigate these issues.

As authors of the book Making the Matrix Work we have been helping organisations around the world build the skills, culture and ways of working needed for people to succeed in this more complex environment for over 20 years.

Changing the structure is not enough, we need to align our processes, our people and our culture for a matrix transformation to succeed. Then people element is often neglected in the early stages of the change.

If you are introducing matrix management for the first time or seeking to evolve your existing matrix to make it more effective and flexible, then you might be interested in our downloading our matrix management training details, or in having a conversation with one of our specialists in this area.

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