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Operationalizing a Matrix Structure

When organizations restructure into a matrix, the resulting design typically follows one of several vertical structures:

  • Dual or dotted-line reporting to two leaders
  • Formal matrix, in which centralized areas (also known as “shared services” or “centers of excellence”) must execute their own goals while serving other areas of the organization
  • Matrix leader approach, which assigns specific leaders to direct cross-functional initiatives or strategic business segments by working with teams from across the organization
  • A combination of the above

Regardless of which matrix structure you have, the key to operational success lies in integrating the different parts to work together. In this working session, our facilitators guide key leaders through applying Matrix Management 2.0™ theory to make your structure work more effectively.

Choose This Session If . . .

  • You are considering restructuring and are looking for a new approach before touching the org chart
  • You’ve recently restructured your organization into a matrix
  • You’ve restructured in the past and leaders still struggle to make the structure work

What to Expect

Operationalizing a matrix takes time. It’s a transformative process through which organizations evolve as they move to successive levels of matrix maturity. Matrix organizations operate in two dimensions, but today’s common practice of creating a matrix structure typically stops at one, the vertical dimension.

This working session focuses on the horizontal dimension, which operates across functions to serve an organization’s customers. We help your leaders understand how to use this dimension for more effective and efficient operations. Based on the level of engagement, goals for this session may include the following:

  • A map of the organization’s horizontal dimension
  • Defined segments that need horizontal structure, such as steering teams that govern cross-functional areas
  • High-level structure that defines accountability for each team
  • Key stakeholders of segments and initial team membership

Once the team has committed to operating in the horizontal dimension, they define next steps for migrating the structure. The migration planning process will assess readiness to change, change management planning, and identification of a sustainable future state that will create the least disruption in the organization.

Common Concerns

Our leaders are tired because the restructure took so long.

Restructuring—whether into a matrix or another structure—often results in new reporting relationships, hours of negotiation over resource allocation, and additional time spent documenting decision-making authority. We know that this process exhausts leaders, who don’t want to hear that more work lies ahead. Such “restructuring fatigue” not only comes from restructuring, but also from repeating the process time and again.

If you’re suffering from restructuring fatigue, your leaders need to realize that they can solve their challenges without restructuring the vertical dimension. This working session probably won’t be the best starting point, unless your senior leaders already recognize that the horizontal dimension should drive your organization’s operations and are committed to making this shift. Instead, consider our training course Matrix Management 2.0™ Base Camp. This program introduces leaders to new ways of thinking, without creating unnecessary resistance to a change they may not be ready to tackle.

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