Matrix Organizations: SUMMARY LO6387
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 12:36:11 -0500
I would like to sincerely thank all of the participants on the various
lists that this request was sent to for their very helpful responses
and valuable insights.
My original request was as follows:
My name is Kurt Hoffman, and I am an ~internal consultant set to work
on some structural issues* facing my company today. In particular I
am interested in others experiences when working with organizations
composed in a top-down matrix management structure. I am aware of
many of the positives and negatives of such a structure, I am
interested in hearing about other consultant/OD type adventures into
making changes in such a complex environment.
I would appreciate any help on how to go about maneuvering through
a matrix organization and any potential pitfalls to avoid along the
way. Also, if there are any particularly beneficial reading materials
on the subject, I would like to get my hands on them as well.
In particular I would like to thank the following people for taking
time out to spend with myself and my colleagues while we attempted to
sort out the complexities of the matrix organization:
Ken Pederson of Dow Chemical who spent the greater part of an hour
discussing the impact a matrix structure has had on his organization.
The following points were brought to light in that conversation:
Some general themes of interest:
1) The larger number of masters, the more dysfunctional the
2) The more global the measures/incentives, the more global the
3) Where extensive resource sharing must exist, see #s 1&2 above;
once the matrix gets fragmented it loses any effectiveness.
4) Moved away from sales incentives altogether.
5) Changed Dow's accounting systems to align with business team
6) Business Team members (PL team) "direct report" to vp of business
and dotted line to function.
7) Moved away from geographic sales structure to global business
structure. Each business has its own sales reps. By the way, this
organization allowed them to reduce the number of sales people and
tech support by 50% over the last 3 years.
Gene Bellinger who maintains a very thought provoking web page with
some "mental model musings" that I found quite interesting. The page
is located at:
Fred Nickols also contributed greatly to the way that I have come
to look at a matrix design. His specific contributions were as
1. There is a necessity to look at the axes of the matrix, one which
is usually functional and the other aligned to markets.
2. Once this definition is made, it is crucial to determine which of
those two axes REALLY controls the power in the organization.
3. Generally one will control the direction and policy decisions,
while the other will control resources.
4. ANY internal consultant must be very well connected within the
organization in order to undertake a change of this magnitude: "you
had better be a pretty darned good politician".
Doug Kilgore, Martin Greller and others also highlighted the
There is a absolute need for top management support in order to
undertake such a large scale change.
Structure should follow functionality, don't just implement a
matrix design for the sake of matrixing. Also important is that the
employees should clearly understand why the structure is in place.
Conflict management skills for managers in the "2-boss" situation
is a must.
I had also included a request for useful reading materials in my
posting and the following were offered:
The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
Unwritten rules of the Game by Peter Scott Morgans
Heinz Jarmai:Matrix versus Netzwerk. Wie bew#228#ltigen wir
in einer multilokalen Weltwirtschaft? In: Heitger, B./Gester, P.,
Schmitz, Ch. (Edit.): Managerie. 3. Jahrbuch f#252#r systemisches Denken
und Handeln im Management. Carl Auer, Heidelberg, 1995
(unfortunately, I am not fluent in German despite the name, but thanks
anyway Dr. Schmitz)
*There were also a fair amount of questions about what exactly
"structural issues" I was referring to in my posting, and frankly that
was used solely as a generality so as to not limit the types and kinds
of responses I might receive.
THANK YOU ALL AGAIN FOR TAKING THE TIME TO RESPOND TO MY POSTING, IF
IN THE FUTURE I CAN RETURN THE FAVOR I CERTAINLY WILL NOT HESITATE TO
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