Measuring Improvement in the Matrix Culture
It's always a good idea to undertake an audit before you introduce any change in your business - especially when the change is to bring about a matrix organisation. You have to focus on hard and soft measures, so as well as looking as productivity and costing, responsiveness etc you have to look at attitudes and behaviour - which is something many businesses fail to assess.
It is a good idea to run a pilot in a discrete area of the business to see what works for you and your people. A huge mistake is to commit to a matrix business as 'the business model without creating a very specific plan of action.
Making Matrix Happen
We were consulting with a large $6 billion, (employing 18,000 staff), manufacturing business in Wisconsin, Illinois where a specific Plant known as the T Plant wanted to introduce Matrix organisation. This Plant had a very important prototyping role in this Agri-Construction -Auto business - it was the Plant which was used as the test bed for manufacturing plans to assemble all of the company's products worldwide.
Their work was focused on production possibilities and the actual techniques and assessment of how best to manufacture the product from goods inwards to despatching their orders. In this Plant, carefully defined processes would be designed in terms of manufacturing capability. Accuracy and error were not an issue. It had to be 100% right first time with no margin for error or quality corrections after the event.
Complexity in Prototyping
The ideas, methodology, processes and manufacturing capability plans that flowed from this plant had to be accurate - so as to be made to work on the other side of the globe from Australia to Uzbekistan, from Paris to Doncaster. Although the group had a huge prototyping responsibility the only way they could cope with their huge work flow was to go Matrix.
Advanced Engineering professionals would have to work across functional boundaries and really get to grips with the technical expertise of other professional engineers and scientists. This was serious stuff. These people had MSc's and PhD's, post doctoral work in advanced engineering.
I likened the approach taken to how NASA set up probably the first matrix organisation. There were lots of clever people around who questioned everything, which I found a fantastically enjoyable challenge. If I could win these guys over I was very happy!
Fool-Proofing the Process
As you can imagine, we set a process in place which was repeatable and error free working on small projects at first, learning from them and incorporating our learning into our next iteration. By working on small projects, we were able to understand the roadblocks, the challenges and set up fool-proofing techniques designed to prevent errors arising.
10 S's Cultural Assessment
From this early work we undertook a rigorous analysis of the organisation using our 10 S's cultural assessment that measured the readiness of change from Strategy to Systems and Symbols to Skills
From the very early days every progress meeting in the Plant had an agenda item -" What does this mean for how we progress Matrix organisation?" Any matters arising had to be actioned and every action had a time frame and an owner for resolving issues.
Team Development Critical for Matrix Organisation
At this early stage we won the commitment of the top team and their resilience under fire from critics of the changes was fantastic. The critics were the old school who did not want to change and liked things staying as they were.
We won them over through team building and individual coaching using, amongst other things, psychometric profiling helping individual managers understand their strengths and areas for development and improvement.
The programme worked because we measured soft and hard data. We worked on attitudes to change as well as process measures, rework and other standard measures. From this we had a baseline measure from the cultural review.
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