I am looking for an exercise that illustrates the difficulties of a matrix organisation. Do you have an exercise which can help?
RSVP Design Response
The exercise we developed specifically to look at the difficulties of leading within a matrix organisation, (and used in that context with organisations such as Apple, CCL & the UN) is called Top Priority.
The context for example may be to draw attention to a typical pattern of behaviour adopted by a management team: dealing with multiple parallel tasks and enquiries, leaving one task in order to address a new request, failing to recognise how and when to apply their efforts to maximise the return. By raising awareness of the problems associated with this ‘plate-juggling’ behaviour, you can then enable the managers to work in a more productive and considered way.
Top Priority is a 90-minute, classroom-based simulation. It includes leadership and people-management principles, as well as complex task prioritisation and monitoring. The individual tasks that make it up have been carefully chosen: they are not a random selection of activities These activities, whilst relatively simple in isolation become much more complex in combination. The overall task simulates a high-pressure, multi-task environment. The challenge is most likely to be achieved if there are clear lines of communication, firm direction and an emphasis on the ‘big picture’. Failure usually results from no-one taking a leadership role and when no system has been created for balancing the different demands being made upon key individuals.
Build your experiential simulation to mirror organisational reality. Identify the key behavioural issues and select your experiential activities to allow the learners to exhibit and recognise ineffective behaviour. Then allow opportunities to generate learning and provide a practice situation to rehearse and use more effective behaviour. For example if a fundamental principle that makes the experiential activity work is the insistence that it is done according to the ‘rules and constraints’ laid down in the exercise, then this can be an important metaphor for issues involving compliance and integrity. Considered part of the design process it is an element that should be observed and reviewed by the facilitator.