Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Consultant Walks into a Matrix Organization…

I’ve spent the last week trying to both catch up from being away in Sydney and also in reaching out to all the great people I got to meet over there. There will be more video in a few days and I’m hoping to post the next installment of the Art of War for Project Managers before the end of the weekend.

All I have today are ISTABOTs (Is There AnyBody Out There) Questions…

The Consultant Walks into a Matrix Organization…

I’ve been talking to a number of PMs in the past few weeks who are all dealing with the same problem…

Consultant walks into a matrix org reporting to Sr. Mgmt. Sr. Mgr. calls in his direct reports and says. “Meet the new PM on Vaguely Defined Project Y, which I will demonstrate steadfast halfhearted commitment to for the foreseeable future. While the PM is here working, I’ll trust that each of you will do you “best” to provide what you are asked for. In order to ensure the success of this project, I will not be removing any of your current responsibilities or providing you with any additional support. Naturally, there will be no penalty for non-compliance and your bonus structure will not be impacted by anything other than your successful work on everything but this project.”

This is the most you can get from Sr. Mgr and of course, the direct reports treat you like you are serving up warm helpings of skunked beer.

How do you fix this if the the level of support put forth by the Sr. Mgr. is the best you are going to get?


  1. Who's the project sponsor and what are they doing to get people engaged? I've been stuck in this situation, and in retrospect, the solution is to get the sponsor to step up, ensure the project is important (i.e., supports the organization's strategy) or cancel the project.

  2. I know three people working through this situation and in each case, the sponsor has not been able to get their team engaged... which is sort of the root cause.

    It is weird how common an issue this seems to be and yet, there does not seem to be any kind of working solution.

  3. This doesn't have to happen just to consultants. But the advantage when it happens as an employee is that you have your history with the company (even if not necessarily with the team) to help you muddle through until the project fizzles out.