manager into a better project manager. I suspect it will lead to a lot of pseudo-prestige activity that will not increase the effectiveness of project managers.
I recommend that our readers go back to page 29 of the June, 1977 issue. That article by Thamhain and Wilemon, “Leadership Effectiveness in Program Management” had an interesting conclusion: “The effectiveness of the project manager depends on his leadership style and his work environment.” Obviously, I have taken this quote out of context of the article. However, I believe it is pertinent. Certification will never increase the leadership effectiveness of project managers. Training, feedback, discussions, management skills, techniques, hard knocks, experience, mistakes and, above all, a professional attitude will increase the effectiveness of project managers.
I repeat my beginning comment. I believe certification for project managers is a crock. C.P.M. after your name could also mean Cosmetic Professional Man!
G. C. Creel
Brandon Shores Project
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company
This column is beginning to operate successfully as PMQ readers send new materials to be included. Lei’s keep it going! Send references or copies of new articles or books to be included in the Literature Review to:
Economic Development Institute
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433
Matrix, by Stanley M. Davis and Paul R. Lawrence, Addison-Wesley, 1977.
The organizational equivalent of bigamy — serving two bosses simultaneously — has become respectable. It used to be thought sinful, disorderly, structurally “unclean.” Now, at least in some progressive circles, it is seen — if well managed — to offer prospects for enhancing creativity.
The moral terminology is appropriate for basic principles are at stake. “You cannot expect to have your cake and eat it too.” “You shall not separate authority from responsibility.” “You cannot serve two masters.” These once irrefutable tenets of management wisdom are now being openly challenged. Managers — at least in the more progressive change-oriented sectors — are beginning to wonder whether yesterday’s sin is today’s virtue.
Sin, of course, is not new. Nor are respectable two-boss relationships (as everyone who has had two parents knows). But in the traditional management literature and among orthodox organization planners until the last decade dual reporting relationships have been discussed either with outright disdain or coyly and tentatively under cover of the organization chart’s “dotted line.”
The dotted line generally signals that the person at its lower end must take advice, “leadership” and “functional control” in designated and often specialized areas of concern from the person at its high end although day-to-day the subordinate takes orders from his solid-line boss. Commonly, the dotted-line boss is “staff,” the solid-line boss “line.” The solid line is likely to indicate the primary concern — the concern around which the enterprise is organized. The dotted lines indicate secondary but nevertheless important concerns. What if an organization has two key sets of concerns both of which are too important to be made secondary?
Then — as has often been the case with multiproduct multinationals or high-technology firms which must innovate while producing — the dotted line convention either is retained and confuses the reality of the two reporting relationships or both lines are drawn solid and the “matrix” structure is brought into the open.
For managers wishing to explore the dangers and benefits of moving towards overt matrix management — the effort to organize simultaneously around two or more equally important objectives — for those willing to look through the dotted-line veil and frontally address the realities it sometimes hides, Davis’ and Lawrence’s Matrix is an excellent guide.
Matrix is not a sales document for a new panacea. It is not a theoretical discourse for scholars. It is a practical, down-to-earth and lucid survey of the advantages and difficulties of matrix management, when it might be appropriate and what its implications are for planning, budgeting, control and reward systems, management style and organizational culture.
“…All individuals new to matrix management lack some of the knowledge and the skills needed to navigate through the ambiguities and conflicts of a matrix,” the authors believe. “A matrix demands new behavior, attitudes, skills, and knowledge … The success of a matrix depends on the capacity of the organization to help people learn how to function in new ways.”
This book will broaden the horizons of those new to the subject, help those who are trying to decide whether to move into matrix management and provide numerous useful pointers and insights for those now trying to practice matrix management. Particularly valuable for managers will be the book’s analysis of appropriate matrix behavior and how to foster it, for according to the authors “the existence of a matrix is an acknowledgement that the executive leadership cannot make all the key decisions in a timely way.” Their capacity, therefore, to manage appropriately the decision-making context becomes key.
According to the authors, the culture of a successful matrix organization will feature extensive collaboration and shared responsibility, an open and confronting style, a low level of status consciousness, great flexibility and a sense among key executives “that they need worthy adversaries, counterparts who can match them and turn the conflict to constructive ends.” The key managers in a matrix “must understand that to win power absolutely is to lose performance ultimately.” They must recognize and respond to institutional goals which transcend their own special concerns. They must subdue their adversary and territorial instincts.
Those who seek structural models and crisp formulae which can readily be adopted by (or imposed on) their own organization will be disappointed. The authors make clear that matrix “structure” is only a small part of the equation. Matrix behavior is indispensable. As a result, matrix management has to be “grown” by the organization. It cannot be grown quickly, easily or inexpensively. It should not be attempted where simpler alternatives are practical.
The case studies in Matrix describe some of the species of matrix that have been grown in the past decade. The discussion of “matrix pathologies” describes clearly the major pitfalls of attempting matrix management and suggests possible preventative measures and cures. It provides fair warning to premature enthusiasts and offers sound guidance for practitioners.
All in all, Matrix is a thoroughly practical, concise and balanced handbook. There is so much good sense in it that those to whom the subject is important are likely to read the book twice if they read it once.
J.C. Peter Richardson
What’s your PMTQ? Our Pulse of the Profession® research shows that organizations that combine technical skills with project management approaches drive more successful outcomes.