Step 2: Simplifying your matrix organization structure

Step 2. Simplifying your matrix organization structure – involve the fewest levels and smallest numbers of people.

Sample matrix organization chart

Step two of three steps to simplifying your matrix organization structure.
In step one, we focused on limiting matrix management to specific populations within the organization. In deciding how far to go with your matrix structure the key question is: “where does this structural complexity add value rather than just cost and confusion?”

The second consideration is: how deep into the organization does the matrix structure need to go?

In our experience, many organizations initially go too far before evolving back towards a simpler and less matrixed structure

We normally recommend that the matrix is only applied to the matrix middle group (see step one post) and we recommend limiting the matrix to two or three reporting levels below the global group members. This of course is a rule of thumb, and the final design will be a function of your business realities.

Sometimes very few people may be needed to achieve your goals (as we saw in the worked example in step one). Sometimes it’s even simpler than that.

I spoke to a private bank a few years ago who had committed to an expensive and extensive community building activity with job rotation, open days and management road shows designed to encourage cross selling of their products. When I pushed them to identify who would actually be involved in this cross selling it was clear that less than ten people actually have the opportunity to do this. Instead of investing in building a community of 1,000 people, it would make a lot more sense to invest in the skills and capabilities of these key ten.

By limiting the number of people and levels involved, we  can then focus on building the skills, confidence and capabilities for leaders at this level within the matrix middle to make the matrix successful – a much more manageable task than retraining the whole organization.


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