Rotterdam School of Management

Rotterdam School of Management

Last programme of the spring schedule…Rotterdam School of Management.


Looking forward to returning in the fall. The results of all the programmes are on the Participant Feedback tab.



I worked in an organization once which was heavily matrixed…meaning, for example, that GM’s of businesses reported up through the business unit reporting structure as well as through a corporate staff structure…site CFO’s reported to the GM as well as to a corporate head of operational finance and to the business unit head of finance.  Similar structures existed all around the organization.  Many of us had numerous people to whom we were reporting.  It was a bit confusing.

My first reaction to this was “Ugh! This is suffocating.”  However, I decided to spend some time trying to come up with every possible reason why this was the BEST structure and how I could best work with it.  Here are some of the answers I came up with.

First, this was an organization that had recently come together as a result of a spin-off of a major corporation and was comprised of many small operations located all over the world.  A highly matrixed structure can be very effective in getting them all to operate in a consistent manner, and to keep them all in control.

Second, a highly matrixed organization can be an effective structure for identifying and implementing cost savings activities across the entire organization.  The matrix provides multiple perspectives through which to look at each operation for these opportunities.  This organization was hugely effective in doing just that and realizing the “proposed synergies” of the new company.

Finally, having a matrix structure makes it difficult for any one person to mask or hide key information and have their own agenda.  While that may sound a bit cycnical, it is a dynamic that I have certainly observed on more than one occasion.  Like it or not, one of the difficult aspects of bringing a new company together is getting all leaders to buy-in to the new management, structure and direction. A matrix is an effective tool for working through that process and keeping a complex organization under control.  I also wrote about this in the post “Are you getting the information you need…”  link

There were a couple of interesting outcomes of this for me…I found these were really very good reasons for being structured and operating the way we were, despite the fact that I did not like the structure; and, being objective about it enabled me to diffuse my anxiety about the structure and actually work effectively within it.