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Implementing Matrix Management 2.0™

rainbow block pattern

A lot of leaders believe managers must have control over the people that work for them and that authority is required to get things done. But since most work is done on cross-functional teams where there is little or no “formal” authority, this approach won’t work. This is where Matrix Management 2.0™ comes into play.


The Two Dimensions of a Matrix Organization

Today, we need a new way of managing. A way to help employees operate in the two dimensions of the organization: (The horizontal – dimension of customers and suppliers and the vertical – dimension of bosses and subordinates). This way of managing is called Matrix Management 2.0™.

Matrix management is not a new concept. Since the 1970’s organizations have known that there was a need to find new ways of handling the horizontal needs in a vertically aligned organization. Since they assumed that in order to get work done you needed authority and control, the dual-reporting structure was created that assigned one person to two bosses who could exercise authority over him. This was the wrong solution to a real problem and as a result, the old matrix management fell into disfavor in the 1980’s.

What we have learned in the twenty years since the demise of the old matrix model is that to be successful we need to manage in both dimensions. And, we also learned that you do not need authority in order to get work done, but you do need alignment. These are two of the key principles of Matrix Management 2.0™.

Implementing Matrix Management 2.0™

In order to be successful, Matrix Management 2.0™ requires the implementation of the following principles:

  1. Horizontal Maps – Horizontal maps represent the crucial pieces of the organization: the “how we do the job”, “who has accountability” and “what support is required and provided to manage each process from start to finish.” Your organization needs a map for each business process and it should have a cross-functional team that oversees the process.
  2. Steering Councils – Governance in a matrix is done through horizontally based councils instead of vertically aligned staff meetings. Councils should start at the top with a Strategic Steering Council and then cascade down through the organization with a council to oversee each cross-functional horizontal segment.
  3. Shared & Individual Goals – In order to ensure that leaders within the councils work together, the goals of each steering council are shared by council members and all the members are held accountable for these goals. In addition, these shared goals are decomposed into individual goals which members are also held accountable for.
  4. Proactive Accountability – Instead of using reactive accountability, based on the requirement that the person accountable have authority or control, proactive accountability asks people to make something happen instead of looking for whom to blame when things don’t happen as planned.
  5. A Project System – A project system starts with a Project Steering Council whose job is to oversee the portfolio of projects (typically the strategic plan) in the organization, includes a resource allocation process that allocates no more than 100% of people’s capacity to do project and business process work and requires project oversight by a project sponsor, whose job is to make sure direction is set, resources are allocated, and obstacles are removed so the project leader can be successful.
  6. Business Process Management – Business processes must be managed, otherwise, they degrade. Business process councils are led by an owner and are comprised of the business process leaders who oversee functions. It is the job of each business process steering council to oversee the operation of its business process and ensure that process performance is maintained. The council identifies when improvements or redesign (reengineering) needs to be done, which then become projects.
  7. Team-Based Methods – Most management is done by teams. Because of this, teams need common methodologies that they can use to get the work done, together. These methods need to foster team participation and cooperation, which will give leaders the ability to build understanding and buy-in.

Organizations that can implement these principles and employ managers who understand how to lead without authority will be able to achieve their strategic goals faster and cheaper than organizations that remain in the old paradigms.

Cathy Cassidy

As the Managing Director of the International Matrix Management Institute, Cathy helps organizations and practitioners adopt the skills and methods they need to succeed in today’s complex, dynamic environment. She is a Matrix Management 2.0™ Master Consultant and the author of several books on matrix management, including her most recent publication, Managing Projects in a Matrix. She is a key contributor to the Matrix Management 2.0™ Body of Knowledge, co-developer of the Matrix Management 2.0™ organizational operating system, and a lead developer for the company.