Pros and Cons of a Matrix Structure – Better Get Use To It

matrix-1799661_1920A matrix is a grid type organization that allows it to address multiple dimensions: Functions: product / service lines and geographies.  Typically an individual may have a mixture of reporting lines: both solid and dotted line.

Increasingly, large complex, global organizations have employed a matrix operating structure.  So why do it?

The advantages include:

It helps to break the silo mentality and structure, by

  • Increasing co-operation across vertical silos
  • Utilizing resources and talent where available 
  • Aids in delivering horizontal work, by
    • Serving global customers
    • Managing the supply chain more efficiently and effectively
    • Running streamlined integrated systems and processes
  •  Provides speed of response
    • The ability to respond to the importance of the global, local, business and functional requirements
  • Develops broader capabilities
    • Enhances capabilities that delivers value across the organization

A lot of these advantages can be categorized as being of benefitting the organization.

When focusing on the disadvantages, these can often be focused on the individual operating within the matrix and can include:

  • Goals are not clear
    • Who is doing what where are when. Often goals become misaligned due to a lack of communications, but also on not considering the bigger picture.
  • Determining who is in charge
    • The traditional organizational chart is of no use. We need to develop the matrix structure diagram by considering stakeholders, direct and indirect. Often these charts are fluid depending on what you do and the maturity of the activity.
  • Poor communication
    • The silo mentality takes over. What an individual needs to achieve can only be achieved through the combined efforts off the team, but if you do not know the formal and the informal members, then communicating becomes an issue
  • Lack of direct accountability
    • Going back to classic RACI model (Responsibility, Accountability, Consult and Inform) provides a process for identifying each contribution to an activity and decision-making. Knowing who is ultimately in charge, always helps!
  • Delays in making decisions
    • Often occurs because we do not know who is in charge. The other issue, becomes, who to inform and who needs to know when a decision is required.  Making a decision can often be easier than seeing it through within a matrix structure.
  • Increase in conflict
    • Created due to a range of issues goal misalignment, operating distance, lack of accountability. If you are operating in a matrix, and there is no conflict, then ask yourself if you really are in a matrix. The setup and implementation of a matrix, will result in conflict and potential conflict arising.  Managing the conflict in a proactive manner becomes key.








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