Matrix Organisations LO24148

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 03/10/00

Replying to LO24136 --

Hi Jackie,

There is essentially NO solution for the problems generated by the matrix
organisation. It kind of institutionalizes unsafe, fractious,
disharmonious relations. It is prone to disorganization, conflicts of
interest, level skipping and chaos. The organisation will lead to serious
amounts of rescheduling, paperwork and coordinating meetings. Lots of
waste. There will be a tendency to support all kinds of team work that
will depend on the willingness of people to co-operate and get results,
but since people's salaries and bonusses may be determined by a functional
manager, there is little hope that this will succeed. There also will be a
number of unsuccessful attempts to introduce customer orientated thinking,
but again the functional managers will be seen as the customer. These kind
of situations are full of equivocalities and double binds. The only work
will be done by people hired from the outside, from Manpower-like agencies
or by free-lancers.

The best way to get results is either to make "small matrixes" - about 25
- 50 people, so that managers can keep in contact and / or to make the
product-axis, the productline in the direction of the market/customer,
leading. In my view it works best to split of people from the functional
organisation for a project under the supervision of a project leader or
account manager or even a customer. Also do not give an employee from
inside the matrix more than two (2) projects of customers. Whenever a
third assignment pops up: ask the clients to reschedule their priorities.

The top or general manager must be willing to spend lots and lots of time
with his team of managers and must be able to create an open, constructive
setting for dialogue.

I've worked for years in a matrix organisation, as well as a member and
also as a manager. The drwaback i've highlighted are also from a (Dutch)
book by A.B. de Swaaf on Structures in organisations and the Quality of
co-operation. I found it very resourcefull, but i doubt if there is an
English translation.

Hope this helps,

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie

Jackie Guinness wrote:

> I am currently involved in a project at the University of Bath
> Undergraduate Programme and we are looking at matrix organisational
> structures. We are essentally focusing on finding solutions for the well
> known problems that the matrix generates eg 'people problems'. I would
> welcome any ideas regarding this topic.

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan)
LOGISENS  - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development
Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Group Decision Process Support
Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or
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