Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

The journey to more complex collaboration

Since the 1980s collaboration has been becoming steadily more complex, enabled by technology and driven by the need to operate increasingly integrated and cost-effective organizations.

In the 80s the availability of mobile phones, email, office software and the Internet enabled the growth of remote teams. Working with colleagues who are not face-to-face remains one of the biggest changes to collaboration and has major implications for trust, relationship building, collaboration and performance. International teams became more common, bringing new cultural and time zone challenges.

In the 90s we started to lead groups of people who we didn’t control. Virtual team leaders had dotted lines or maybe no lines at all and teams started to cut across functional boundaries. Many organizations still struggle with this challenge to traditional hierarchy and control.

Matrix management has been around for decades, but we saw a resurgence in the 2000s and particularly after the financial crash in 2008 as organizations needed to become more integrated and to share resources and costs. In matrix teams we cut across the traditional vertical silos of business unit, function and geography.

Today, all of these challenges remain relevant, but the focus is moving towards agile and digital teams. People are part of multiple short- and long-term teams, having to deliver much faster and working together through technology that is much more integrated into the way we work. Agile working encourages faster iteration and learning, autonomous teams and emergent leadership.

In the past we may have had time to learn each of these steps in turn but today, you might find that your first leadership role is in an agile, global, matrix, virtual and digital team.

Each of these steps build some enabling skills, for example if you can’t work together in a virtual team or work across the silos then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to successfully deliver a digital project. Digital is naturally horizontal, it cuts across organizational boundaries and is no respecter of silos.

Where are you and your organization in this journey? Are there any gaps you need to fill to succeed today and prepare for the next step? If you need to build remote, virtual, matrix or digital capability, you can see an interactive graphic of our learning paths and training module contents here.


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We are deep content experts in remote, virtual and hybrid working, matrix management and agile & digital leadership. We are highly flexible in how we deliver our content and ideas. We can tailor content closely to your specific needs or deliver off the shelf bite sized modules based on our existing IP and 25 years of training experience.

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