Who this is recommended for:
- Organisations which are already operating in a partial or full matrix system and would like to further develop their operations.
- Organisations who are planning to make a shift to project based or matrix type operations.
As organisations are becoming increasingly complex there is hardly one left without at least elements of the matrix method of operations. Are some of your employees working on projects on top of their daily operative tasks? If so, they need to align with two different, yet equally important sets of viewpoints. Do you have a hierarchical organisational structure as well as professional competence centres? If so, individual performance is evaluated along two somewhat different sets of criteria. These everyday examples hint at matrix type operations even if your organisational model is not ‘officially called’ a matrix.
Several organisations have decided, or are planning, to shift to matrix based operations. What this means in practice is that everyday challenges have to be met while aligning to two, equally powerful sets of viewpoints.
Most common examples include:
- competence centres and product development projects,
- countries and categories,
- functional units and regions.
If the matrix functions well, decision making processes that used to be based on a single set of viewpoints may be replaced by a functional decision making process employing several sets of viewpoints, resulting in constructive discussion scenarios which can lead to better solutions. This sounds simple but how can you have constructive, rather than destructive, discussions, and how can you make conflicts work for you instead of holding you back?
The matrix is operated from within, therefore it is imperative that co-workers recognise their factors of success and hold all necessarycompetences.
Interference is a wave pattern that is created by the superpositioning of two or more waves. When two peaks meet, interference becomes constructive (enhancing).
Our matrix skills development program bases successful matrix operation on seven key factors*:
1. Build relationships
Relationships in a matrix are like grout in a brick wall: it does not look much but it holds everything together. If there are many points of view that must be considered in the course of decision making you need to have direct access to the persons embodying those points of view.
2. Align systems of objectives
The primary goal of a matrix is to support multiple points of view instead of single aspect solutions. However this can only work if objectives have been discussed and aligned, if we have an understanding of where these objectives support each other, and where they conflict, and if you can find your points of balance in the process.
3. Clarify roles
This is where the matrix is different from traditional organisations: it’s not enough to clarify WHAT you are worth, you also need to understand HOW and WITH WHOM you can be valuable.
4. Make decisions when you have to
Once roles are clearly set you will see who is/are authorised to make certain decisions. Your challenge is not to make the right decision (having multiple points of view already takes care of that) but to make it at the right moment.
5. Increase your influentiality
When working in a matrix type organisation your responsibilities and the effects of your actions will be far greater than any formal ‘power’ you may have. And because you cannot use the ‘power’ a hierarchical system would give you, your skills of influencing others gain enhanced importance.
6. Communicate without assumptions
In a matrix type organisation you will have an endless flow of information. Often you need to communicate efficiently with co-workers at faraway locations and with different cultural backgrounds. Basing your communication on assumptions (what people should know, what people intend to achieve, etc.) can backfire and damage your credibility and trust.
7. Make your meetings more efficient
The most common criticism against matrix operations is that of ‘endless meetings’. However, the matrix need not be like that. Make your meetings count, and you will make all other factors valuable – or vice versa. Once you have made it valuable you can start thinking about making it efficient.
* based on: Master the Matrix by Susan Z. Finerty
However, the way we see it, Matrix Management Process is more than just an organisational schema.
The organisation is interwoven by the matrix. If the matrix is present in operations, if only in traces, it will yield complex effects throughout the organisation. This means you can effect a more thorough change, more stable and longer lasting results if you develop your matrix in the context of the entire organisation. This allows us to move beyond treating local issues and deficiencies and in fact harmonise the matrix with your corporate culture, values and vision, as well as with organisations processes.
- Stabile and well founded matrix operations, a healthy environment throughout the entire organisation
- Competent and well prepared colleagues who can make the best of what the matrix has to offer.
- Understanding the WHYs and HOWs, turning the matrix into a tool, rather than an enemy.
- Proactive alignment of objectives, instead of always passing the buck.
- Decisions that matter, instead of endless consultations.
- Clarifying roles to ease everyday work.
- Co-workers never abandon a successful team.