This globalization thing where companies are competing throughout several cultures, languages, and economies continues to throw leaders for a loop. The idea of working across cultures, leveraging the entire organization, and accommodating shifting priorities due to shifting global economics can present significant barriers and challenge our best leaders. Now our strategies must consider many markets, managing internal and external resources, and enable systems-thinking approaches. Here are some of the questions any leader might pose:
As leaders, we are being asked to embrace an enterprise model and manage paradox in a matrix organization – I warned you.
While the previous sentence is heavy and may make your head spin a bit, I am hearing the terms enterprise, paradox, and matrix everywhere these days.
So for those of you who are interested, dig in a little deeper and understand these concepts better. First, let me describe these main themes.
An enterprise model
This model shifts the power away from a company’s corporate headquarters and enables the field offices. In an enterprise model, the best ideas don’t have to come from HQ Research & Development. With an enterprise, the best ideas come from wherever the best ideas come from. Anyone can contribute – vendor, supplier, field manager, manufacturer, business partner, business unit, etc. The enterprise model calls for leaders to leverage a broad-base of relationships, bringing many people to the table to solve a problem or pursue an opportunity.
Leaders are being asked to navigate through opportunity and change more so than managing compliance. Our command and control style worked for managing compliance, but falls flat in managing the paradox. Paradox represents conflicting ideas or pursuits. A paradox is a dilemma. An example of paradox is when you’ve got to deliver on speed and quality. Both speed and quality are good pursuits that are oftentimes in conflict with each other. But today, leaders are expected to manage the paradox between speed and quality to meet the business goals.
A hierarchical organization has a very vertical structure. I have a boss, who has a boss, who has a boss, who has a boss. Vertical. Other organizations shun the vertical hierarchy organizing purely behind a project. These organizations bring teams together to deliver a job. For instance, building contractor companies work this way as they bring subcontractors to a building project. A plumber shows up, so does an electrician, and a construction worker all specializing in their particular area of focus. Horizontal. A matrix organization does both with employees reporting vertically up through the organization and horizontally with other team members to deliver special projects – thus the term matrix – vertical and horizontal lanes.
So, as a leader, consider these points as you become a better global leader that manages paradox effectively in a matrix organization:
For the enterprise
For the paradox
For the matrix
Questions for you: