Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matrix Organizations Fail at Fixing Broad Systemic Execution Issues

A matrix approach for sourcing projects has been in use for years and is a common practice that is given little thought these days. In concert with formal project management it has been proven to be both an effective and efficient approach for tactical project execution. However, utilizing this same approach in a strategic improvement setting frequently leads organizations down an extended path of disappointing results. This is essentially a "solution by committee" approach that lacks focus on solutions. There is a more effective means for creating solutions to systemic New Product Execution (NPE) issues.

Dealing with issues that are completely self-contained within a single organizational silo is a fairly straightforward activity. All the inputs and outputs, the receivables and deliverables are totally within the grasp of the functional unit. The silo leadership can successfully manage these localized improvement activities without the need for information and/or decisions from outside their area of direct influence. This is the easy stuff!

Taking on systemic issues that are of a broader functional area scope is where many organizations stumble, latch-up or fail miserably. They meet, they discuss, they add tools and they attempt to persuade for what seems like an eternity. These broad based issues often evolve into something that is deemed unfixable, although admission of such a defeat is never uttered, only displayed by a quiet pullback of focus on a real solution. New Product Execution (NPE) paralysis results from a culture that blindly promotes solution by committee, an approach directly enabled as a byproduct of the matrix methods used for product development.

While ideal for tactical management of project activities these same matrix approaches fail at developing solutions to broad scope systemic execution barriers, primarily due to a lack of specific accountability. If a particular problem does not have an explicit name associated with developing a solution for it, advancement towards a solution lacks focus. Review your most painful issues with NPE. How long has resolution been sought for this? Is there a singular owner identified and is this owner aware of this responsibility and it's objectives? Without an owner of these systemic barriers in place, solutions will remain elusive; it's really that simple!

What's that, there are not enough resources available to assign a specific individual? That's nothing more than an excuse to keep things as they are, a somewhat unconscious means for inhibiting change. Estimate the recurring cost of the most glaring barrier to NPE and the rationalization for finding and assigning an ideal resource will present itself. Failure to do so will strengthen the "work harder, not smarter" philosophy that drives a misused sense of urgency, further eroding efficiency in new product development.

Pause, take a deep breath and assign resources to fix issues that feed the insatiable new product frenzy that focuses more on quantity than quality. Reliance on a matrix approach for solving systemic issues will continue the quantity frenzy while individual accountability will enable competitive new product strength through quality, efficiency and working on the right things. It is absolutely a choice, one that many organizations fail to make.

GM --> Focus on new product quantity, Apple --> Focus on new product quality. Where is your new product organization? Think about it!

No comments:

Post a Comment