The other day my superior asked me to take on responsibility within the department in a way that conflicted with my original role. Back in October 2007, I was hired as a functional manager. A few months ago, the department hired its first project manager. Our department never defined itself as projectized, functional, or matrixed. Because there were no PM’s, I knew my role was clearly functional and so was the organization. The management team knew I had a lot of experience in project management and recently asked that I start managing deliverable as a project manager while still acting in the role of a functional manager. I explained that there would be conflict, if I indeed agreed to do that. I was then told the department was now “matrixed”. I politely clarified by adding that upon hiring “a” project manager, we were a weak matrix. All of the power still rests with the functional manager(s) and the project manager is merely acting as a facilitator. I added if they wanted the project manager(s) to hold a majority of the power, that is known as a strong matrix. There was silence. The response was, “then we want our organization to be a strong matrix”.
A few days later, we had a team meeting. My superior brought me and my team into the conference room and handed everyone a printout from the Wikipedia website for Matrix Management. I was silent as he attempted to explain to the team that they should now be getting direction from the project manager(s) and that I would be working in a more supporting capacity. They all looked a bit confused so I walked over to the white-board and offered an illustration of what model we were and what model he was proposing.
What I didn’t tell them (or my superior) was that I am one of the contributing authors of the Matrix Management definition page on Wikipedia.