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Inside the Matrix

Optimize Blog - July 14, 2014 - 0 comments

We believe that everyone works in a matrix – we are all like Keanu Reeves! We find that the majority of organizations operate in two dimensions: the dimension of getting the work done (which is the horizontal dimension) and the dimension of reporting relationships and allocating resources (the vertical dimension).
Working in two dimensions creates complexities for everyone, from the senior leaders to individual team members trying to get the work done. So can we make the two dimensions work? At Zeitgeist we think so provided we follow a few key rules:
1. Control of Self, Not Others
Many of us are deluded by the idea that we can control other people. We think we can control our subordinates, our team members, or even our customers. The reality is that the only person we can control is ourselves. The best way to align others to the strategic goals is through collaboration – allowing them to participate in making decisions and solving problems that affect them.
2. Adult Relationships
Working effectively in a matrix requires collaboration between individuals and collaboration requires adult-to-adult relationships. Adults negotiate, come to consensus, resolve conflicts, respect each other’s opinions, recognize and respect differences, etc.
Too often we see working relationships that are more akin to parent-to-child. Parents dictate, judge, demand, criticize. Children whine, complain, revolt and feel victimized and powerless. By staying in the adult-to-adult mode, we can more effectively negotiate for what we want and need to be successful.
3. Accountability
Many of us work in organizations where being accountable for something means being blamed for what goes wrong. As a result, most of us give up our power and just comply with what is asked of us. The reality however is that we have the option to empower ourselves – to climb out of the role of the victim and to negotiate our accountability upfront with our boss and the organization at large.
4. Being Proactive
All too often we operate out of a reactive mode – responding to problems or other people’s agendas. By moving on the front foot and becoming proactive, we are able to take control of our own outputs and to determine what is required to move the organization forward. To be proactive however requires planning and this cannot be done in isolation as the reality we’re trying to create more often than not requires the support and input of other people.
5. Leader and Team Player
To function effectively, an organization needs team leaders and team players. To work effectively in a matrix is to be able to move seamlessly from leading teams to working productively as a team member – horizontally and vertically.
6. Active Learner
We all make mistakes. It’s not about never making a mistake but it is important that we don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again. We avoid repeating our mistakes when we become an active learner. To continually learn we must be looking for lessons everywhere. What happened? What worked? What can we do differently next time?
It is possible to work effectively in today’s very complex organizations and it takes commitment from each of us to make them work effectively. By following these few basic rules and changing our behavior we can deliver value for the organization as we navigate our way through the matrix…….

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