Teaming • International pharmaceutical company

Focus on Matrix Teams


A pharmaceutical company had recently converted its clinical development teams to a matrix structure to attempt to expedite clinical trials and government approval of new drugs. The company felt that decisions were being diffused and slowed down through duplicative processes in the project completion cycle and low accountability. In the new system, individuals represented their respective functions on three or more matrix teams. Some served on as many as six. The leader of two teams found that her group continued to shift accountability and did not step up. The culture was rather conflict-averse, and it was easy to deflect responsibility around the organization.


The team leader asked 5 Dynamics to deliver Fundamentals sessions to each of her teams. We focused particularly on tying Energies to the Dynamics of any process that is encountered throughout the project completion cycle, and the use of 5 Dynamics “language” to conduct direct—yet polite—discussions about work issues. The team shared working style reports and practiced speaking in alternative learning styles.


Three months later, the team leader reported she is “using the 5 Dynamics language every day. We find it truly helps us speed things up.” Outside observers have noted that her groups are now making the most rapid progress in the company through the drug approval labyrinth. “5 Dynamics has made a big difference in our ability to bring up the major issues, create accountability, and keep things moving,” she says. As a result, almost every team within this division has requested 5 Dynamics training.