Matrix Management

People and Strategy: Revisiting Matrix Management

Image: "People and strategy" magazine coverThis month’s People and Strategy magazine took a good hard look at matrix management in it’s ‘Perspectives’ section, calling on some of the brightest thinkers in the field to respond to an article by Global Integration’s CEO, Kevan Hall, based on his book, “Making the Matrix Work: How Matrix Managers Engage People and Cut Through Complexity“.

Editor Ann Tavis, who co-ordinated the review, notes that Hall’s approach is pragmatic, focussing more on skills than structure to make things work. Hall’s piece for People and Strategy summarises some of the ideas in his book, and looks at some of the big issues which arise in a matrix organization: being connected but being effective; the balance of trust and control; and clarity and alignment.

These ideas are then expanded upon by a panel of leading thinkers assembled by Travis.

Jay R. Galbraith’s, author of “Designing Matrix Organizations that Actually Work” responds in a piece called “Matrix Management: Structure is the Easy Part”, and by and large consurs with Hall.

Greg Kessler and Amy Kates, authors of “Leading Organization Design” add, in their piece, “Activate the Matrix for Integration”, that if a matrix is poorly designed, it will become a barrier to collaboration and integration.

In his piece, “How to Get the Gain with Less Pain”, Andrew Campbell, Director of Ashridge Strategic Management and prolific author on effective organizations, offers words of wisdom regarding how far to take the matrix, and urges us not to get hung up on ‘solid and dotted line’ responsibilities.

Nicolay Warren, author of a textbook on organizational design, builds on Hall’s work, noting in his article, “Simplify Complexity” that another word for a ‘matrix’ organization might be a ‘multi-dimensional’ one, and that organizational design needs to be a continual process .

In his article, “Matrix Organizational Work”, Stephen Clement, author of “Executive Leadership, a Practical Guide to Managing Complexity”, disagrees, at least in part, with Hall, and suggests that matrix structures should be avoided at all costs.

Shepard, Tremlett, Capelle and Mehltretter of the Global Organization Design Society offer some relevant stories and provisos in their piece, “Matrix Benefits without Matrix Costs”.

For anyone involved in organizational design, management or HR, this collection of thought leading essays is an invaluable resource.

Source: “Revisiting Matrix Management” by Kevan Hall, plus discussion. People & Strategy 36.1 – April 2013 pp 4-10


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