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Irony

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.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

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