INFOGRAPHIC: The 6 Challenges Faced by Complex Organizations and How to Overcome Them

| By Terence Brake

Matrix organizations are often complex and confusing; they defy the traditional ‘unity of command’ principle, i.e. each employee being answerable to only one person.  The move to matrix organizations was understandable given the highly competitive nature of the global business environment; an environment that demanded greater organizational agility as well as greater accessibility to global talent.

Where leaders in a matrix often go wrong is trying to solve matrix problems by adding additional structures.  Structures become piled upon – and interwoven – with existing structures which makes navigating them a highly challenging task.  Structure-building is an important leadership task, but in a matrix, it can lead to additional layers of complexity and confusion.  Leaders need to take a more holistic view of how a matrix works to identify best possible solutions.

matrix organisation

Managing the Challenges of a Matrix Organization

Despite these challenges, research has shown that virtual teams can be more productive than face-to-face teams, if the virtual matrix leader focuses on:

  • Cooperation:  Maintaining frequent and regular communication to build team spirit.
  • Convergence: Maintaining clear purpose, direction, and a shared set of priorities.
  • Coordination: Aligning work by clearly defining roles and responsibilities and shared processes.
  • Capability: Providing opportunities for knowledge sharing across the team.
  • Communication: Maintaining a climate of constructive dialogue and positivity.   
  • Cultural Intelligence: Increasing awareness of cultural differences and appropriate adaptations.

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