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Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts by Karen Cvitkovich, Christie Caldwell, Ernest Gundling

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Chapter 4Global Teams: Beyond FacilitationWhy Matrix Teams Fail and How to Get Better Results

Working in the Matrix

One of the biggest visible impacts of the world's shifting center has been the transformation of organizational structures from centralized, hierarchical models to fluid, matrixed organisms. The transformation has been an evolutionary necessity for organizations trying to scale their operations across multiple geographies.

The matrix structure is a technique for managing an organization through a series of overlapping reporting relationships to create balance between the needs of various functions, geographies, business units, and product groups. Figure 4.1 depicts these common elements of many matrix organizations—some may have two or three and others all four. This structure is designed to facilitate rapid response to change in two or more environments, while flatter structure and multiple reporting lines permit a freer exchange of information. All these elements are critical to organizational agility within a fast-paced global economic reality.

A schematic representation of common matrix elements. A big rectangle represents these matrix elements with a small rectangle in the centre that reads “individual needs.” “Geography,” “product group,” “business unit,” and “function” are the elements that are arranged clockwise

Figure 4.1 Common Matrix Elements

Matrix organizational structures are commonly deemed the best antidote to unhealthy silos that isolate groups of employees from one another in separate units. Such silos are conducive to finger-pointing—engineering blames sales for not selling great products, but meanwhile sales blames ...

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