Matrix Organizations

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The matrix organization is becoming a more common reality in today’s business landscape. Many forces have driven the matrix mania:

  • the need to marshal the resources of widespread operations along with the imperative to reduce costs after acquisitions,
  • global clients demanding coordination from vendors across all kinds of boundaries of time, space, and structure,
  • the desire to innovate rapidly,
  • the need to leverage isolated IP assets and relationships,
  • the need for department coordination earlier in all kinds of work processes,
  • globalization.

Some organizations commit a logical fallacy by assuming “better collaboration” as an outcome of matrix structures when—in fact—it’s generally a prerequisite to getting positive results.
We have found three common problems which impair collaboration; these challenges can be found in any organization and are only multiplied in a matrix framework.

  • Lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities. Insufficient time or Energy in Examine, or too much time or Energy in Excite and Explore._ People are afraid to collaborate because they will step on toes, or more commonly, fear claim-jumpers from outside. “You guys work it out” is a high-risk strategy.
  • Turf battles due to lack of clarity (above). These choices usually arise when people don’t want to have tough but necessary conversations. Excite and Explore Energies have a desire to make people feel good.
  • “Win/lose” mentality from the outset. Excess time or Energy in Execute. Execute likes to win, but too much is a bad thing. Business is moving away from Darwinism and more toward “win/win.”

The 5 Dynamics language and methodology can be used to address each in a constructive way.

The gifts of each Energy—innovation (Explore), communication (Excite), examination (Examine), completion (Execute)—are all tremendous assets in a healthy matrix organization and paramount to success and satisfaction.

The bottom line is that the mechanisms, culture, and incentives for collaboration must pre-exist the implementation of a matrix organization. Consider 5 Dynamics to be your ally if you are a part of a matrixed organization.

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