Author: Rentia Muell

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With the economy remaining in a tight position, many organizations are looking for a more innovative approach to strategy formulation and execution. What the more progressive organizations are looking for in Strategy Management is REACH, RICHNESS, SPEED and EXECUTION.

One of the largest banks in Africa is one of these early adopters and progressive organizations. This bank was faced with increasing cost pressures and a highly innovative competitor. The Executive Team identified the need for a process that will enable meaningful and focused large-scale engagement, stimulate innovative ideas and drive successful execution. The decision was made to use the Scientrix Strategy Matrices and Collaborative Technology platform.

The objectives for the project were outlined as follows:

REACH: Reach the best experts inside and outside the organization and include a diverse and broad base of people in the solution design.

RICHNESS: Effectively and efficiently foster the development and communication of rich knowledge, innovative ideas, concepts and strategies in an aligned way.

SPEED: Design solutions, with broad participation, with speed. Improve the cycle time between planning and execution. Make strategy design more dynamic.

EXECUTION: Create close and dynamic feedback loops between knowledge, initiatives and results.

The Executive Team liked the idea of the Scientrix matrices and platform from the start and believed it was a novel, simple but powerful way to align thinking and achieve reach, richness, speed and execution.

But to create a more collaborative enterprise is no easy task and deploying the technology is only one part of the process.

Moving from a silo, highly political, demand and control environment to a more net-working and collaborative environment is a real challenge. No wonder the executive team was mostly concerned about adoption and participation.

They asked the Scientrix team to come up with sustainable solution.

After extensive research the team came up with a new collaboration framework. It was clear from the start that the project would fail if we did not apply a disciplined, but fun approach. Creative sparks were flying and finally our success model emerged. We applied the Scientrix matrix method to come up with a new framework to ensure successful collaboration.

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In 2003, Scientrix pioneered the use of a Matrix architecture for complex problem solving. Complex problems have more than one dimension, a dimension being a concept that can be broken down into variables. Matrix architecture enables us to integrate multiple dimensions within a problem statement, to subdivide the problem into parts and to master one part at a time within the context of the whole.

Why a matrix?

Since the beginning of time, the structure of the Matrix has appealed to the human mind. A Matrix is simple, powerful and accessible to everyone. It enables us to filter out noise and construct brilliant solutions through collaboration.

Normally our minds can only deal with 3 to 5 concepts at once, but in a Matrix we can deal with multiple concepts and the interrelationship between these concepts simultaneously. We can also construct solution architectures that enable broader participation while maintaining the cohesion of the different parts. These architectures require a combination of engineering, architecture and practical solution construct. But let’s start at the beginning:

The First Matrices

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Fig1.1 Early matrices
The earliest known example that illustrates the beauty of the Matrix dates back to 750 BC, with the introduction of the Roman calendar. Attributed to Romulus, it was later reformed by Julius Cesar in 60 BC. The Julian calendar was then adapted into the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used calendar today. The days and months are placed in a grid, allowing for months with an odd number of days, which occur due to the varying times between new moons of either 29 or 30 days.

The ancestor of modern chess was another early Matrix. Said to have originated in India in the 6th Century, this game of strategy was called Chatarunga, which means ‘the game of four armies’. Played on an 8 x 8 uncheckered board, its pieces were similar to those of modern chess.

The ancient Egyptians constructed their pyramids on a perfect square, representing the four corners of the earth, and mirroring the architecture of heaven supporting the four winds. The Great Pyramid is the most accurately aligned structure in existence and faces true north, deviating by only 3/60th of a degree.

Leonardo Da Vinci used the ‘grid method’ in his works and teaching. Gridding makes use of a frame with squares, enabling the artist to transfer the outline of the observed subject in each square to a drawing’s corresponding squares, creating more accurate proportions and perspective.

The Matrix or grid also contains the Fibonacci sequence and its golden spiral, also known as the mathematics of nature.

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Fig1.2 Fibonacci golden spiral
Even today, grids underlie the design of most modern architecture: the terrazzo floor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiral Guggenheim Museum reflects a pattern of circles inscribed in a squared grid.

The 8 Attributes of a Matrix

The Matrix has 8 key attributes that are very powerful for complex problem solving, strategy design and execution.

To imagine the application of the Matrix in strategy, just replace the word landscape with strategy in the section below.

1. Dilenates Scope, Outlines a Landscape and Facilitates Overview

A Matrix delineates scope along two dimensions. It outlines a landscape, a playfield, a portfolio, a canvas or a game, and facilitates the overview of all the elements within a landscape.

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Fig1.3 The matrix landscape

2. Enables Coordination, Clear Positioning and Alignment

It enables coordination, alignment and clear positioning of elements within a landscape through the coordinates on the two axes.

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Fig1.4 Matrix alignment

3. Contains cells in a Landscape where Creativity Sparks

Each intersect in the Matrix is a cell that holds a rich repository of variables. It can be seen as a nexus point – a place where many variables meet. The Matrix orchestrates and aligns the contents of these ‘rich’ cells. Imagine one dimension is output and the other is input. The resulting nexus point will be a value-creating opportunity. At Scientrix we believe that art is borne out of art. A creative spark is ignited where one dimension meets another.

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Fig1.5 Matrix connections

4. Facilitates Seamless Cascading of Landscapes

The Matrix ensures seamless cascading of concepts, level by level, while sustaining the linkage between the elements on the way down. It ensures that everything in a hierarchy is connected in a continuous flow of value.

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Fig1.6 Matrix cascading

5. Enables Interconnectivity within a Landscape

The Matrix establishes relations that reinforce the variables within each dimension, by combining the variables of the same dimension. A kind of ‘internet of things’ in an ecosystem of thinking.

6. Enables Deep Granularity of a Landscape

A Matrix-in-a-Matrix represents a system-within-a-system. This Matrix enables deep diving while sustaining cause-effect relationships, both linear and non-linear. It spirals to link everything together in an ever more granular universe.

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Fig1.7 Matrix deep-dive

7. Enables Multiple Perspectives of a Landscape

When a solution has too many dimensions, the complexity becomes overwhelming. At that point, the most effective dimension needs to be identified and the other dimensions analysed in relation to one another, as if looking at a landscape from multiple viewpoints.

8. Enables Constellation of Landscapes

In a creative, highly agile world, rigid architectures or structures can limit change and prevent organizations from moving forward faster. A constellation of landscapes is created where all parts pull together.

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Fig1.8 Matrix connections
In many ways, a Matrix represents the integration and relationship between different tree constructs or dimensions. It is imperative to move away from silo concepts and manage a company’s enterprise architecture holistically. The Matrix can make sense of chaos within an organization and be a tool for designing a structure that unleashes the full potential of the people and resources within it.

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Fig1.9 Matrix tree constructs
Ultimately, the beauty of the Matrix is that it starts to form an ‘inner web’, a place where people and organizations connect, where knowledge is contextualised and where value is accelerated.

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My success, as a leader, depends on the success of my team and the contribution we make to the strategy and success of our organization. It is thus my role as leader to give direction to my team:

  • Understand the context in which we operate in.
  • Clarify the purpose of our team.
  • Define our objectives and measures in line with the organization’s strategy.

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My responsibility is to structure each team member’s work in such a way that everyone’s role in the bigger scheme of things is clear. I do this by clarifying and aligning the contribution of each person to the overall objectives of our team and ultimately to the organization.

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Using a Matrix provides insight into where each team member needs to focus, giving them a better understanding of the value of their overall contribution. Essentially, using a Matrix brings about a change in leadership style, moving away from silo contributions and individual performance, towards a more collective and inclusive approach to team success. But aligning strategy and contributions is not enough. My team and I need to govern our performance collaboratively, manage our initiatives from idea creation to completion and, on a daily basis, plan and execute tasks effectively.

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However, there will be challenges in execution if our strategy is too ambitious and bears no relationship to our capacity. Failing at execution will not only impact on our success and our careers, but also on the integrity of the team. People will lose faith in our ability to do as we promise. Our ability to learn the art of successful execution depends on having access to the right technology and the implementation of good governance.

How do we do all of this:

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1. Design the Matrix

Seamless process in collaboration with my team. Each point in the Matrix is enriched with analysis and knowledge.

2-3. Link and set targets for KPIs

KPIs are linked to intersects. In each intersect data can be uploaded and trends tracked.

4-5. Brainstorm and filter ideas

Define, align, assess, filter and vote for new ideas.

6. Plan the execution

Plan, track and evaluate initiatives through their entire lifecycles.

7. Execute tasks

Manage and align daily tasks to initiatives and track through a Kanban.

8-9. Assess initiatives and KPIs

Track initiatives and monitor KPIs.

10. Review the Matrix

Evaluate the health of the Matrix and continually improve it.

Finally, successful execution empowers us to:

  • Make the link between our day-to-day tasks, the initiatives we implement and the objectives and strategies we pursue.
  • Understand that not all our ideas will bring success, but that it is a continuous process of learning, trying, measuring and changing.
  • Understand that it is better to finish one thing at a time than having a multitude of halfcomplete initiatives that will never generate value. It is important to manage our initiatives along the lines of a Kanban system and limit work in progress where necessary.
  • Have the discipline to measure and define a finite number of KPI’s so that we can track them and ensure that our efforts pay off.
  • Ensure that the team regularly strategizes in a process that is continuous, collaborative and creative.

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When empowered teams across the organization are linked through technology, as if part of a constellation, a powerful web emerges where execution is expedited and great things happen.

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Achieve Reach, Richness, Speed and Execution in Strategy Management

Strategy Engagement & Execution remains one of the biggest challenges in an organisation. Although everybody will agree how important it is to engage people, it is certainly not an easy task. Engagement generally occurs at the “annual get together”, providing a town hall or one-way communication type of environment.

Scientrix has designed an innovative approach to engage people in the strategy formulation process, to align the collective thought process to overall strategic outcomes and to execute strategy with success.

Using something new like matrices and social technologies requires change and a willingness to learn. In order to engage people to participate we have designed several “game analogies” with the objective to reach more people, to achieve innovative outcomes, to speed up solution design and to master execution.

These games analogies contain elements of both fun and discipline. Our three most popular analogies are the “Football Game Analogy”, the Art Analogy, and the “Lord of the Rings” Strategy Board Game. In this document we explain the Scientrix Journey using “the Football Analogy”.

The Game

Appoint the right coach

Football coaches do not just fill out a team sheet before the game and then watch the players run around and try to score.

Coaches have an obligation to outline how the game will be played by defining what tactics or game plan is to be adopted. The coach is required to appoint the critical players on the field, care for their well-being, develop the skills of the individual players and constantly look for ways to improve the overall team performance.

The coach can be seen as the non-participating twelfth player as his adjustments during the game often directly affect the end result. This team management is a big part of the job, but so is giving players the correct skills, proper conditioning, game knowledge and self-confidence.

Understand the environment

There are many factors that can influence a team’s performance, some are clear and obvious such as lack of talent others not so much. A team that can understand and manage both the external (the players personal life or possible endorsement deals) and the internal (player competition or equipment availability) generally achieves the better results. The ability to understand how these factors interact is an essential component to any successful team.

Much the same can be said about the corporate environment as the having the capability to set a framework for understanding your external economic, social, competitive and customer environment to your relative strategic positioning is a must. It will enable you to see your position as part of “big picture”. You can understand which aspects of your position are secure and which are the most dynamic and likely to change.

Positioning awareness can also force you to see yourself through the eyes of others. Using positioning techniques, you broaden your perspective by gathering a range of viewpoints.

We use a combination of established methods such as Porter’s 5 forces framework and others in the context of a matrix so that you can get a clear overview of your broader environment.

Outline the playing field

Let’s talk tactics! Outlining the playfield is perhaps the most challenging part of the soccer strategy game. If the coach gets this wrong, the chances are high that the game will be lost. The coach needs to put in place the strategy his team is going to take to the field. Will the team sit back and play defensively with the aim being to catch their opponents on a counter attack? Will the team adopt a long ball approach to strong, tall strikers or a more progressive slower build up tactic passing the ball through their team to identify defensive weaknesses in their opponents?

It is vitally important that the team understands these tactics, that they can adopt them and most importantly that they can achieve them.

The playing field on the x-axis outlines a clear destination in the future with milestones over time (Team tactics) and on the y-axis the responsibility areas (The player’s positions) along a well-defined structure – be this the organization structure or any other.

Although this seems easy enough, if the journey and the structure is not well defined, the game will become messy as players fight for space. The following rules should always be taken into account:

  • The destination is clear – players need to know what they are aiming for.
  • The length and breadth of the playfield must not be too big – players can get lost.
  • Explore options before making a decision – find the best fit for your players.
  • The concepts should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE principle) – you don’t want to have overlaps.
  • The division and balance between now and future should be clear – always have the team striving for future goals.

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Define the critical positions

A team that plays to its strengths and is aware of its weaknesses will find the beating of their opponents. A striker who doesn’t miss out on an opportunity does not guarantee you a win if you are leaking goals at the back. Every position on the field (matrix intersect) could potentially be a critical contribution to the successful outcome of the game. The idea is not to find every possible contribution but to find the highest contributors to a successful game.

The highest value contributors are those points that will deliver the highest value with the least efforts and risk to succeed.

The first step is to outline a map with all possible contributions or intersects. Time should then be spent on evaluating these options and then select the highest value contributing positions on the field.

The highest value contributors are those points that will deliver the highest value with the least efforts and risk to succeed.

Here are some tips:

  • There should more than 5 but less than 15 positions on the field – a soccer team has 11 players on the field.
  • Find a good balance between the “present priorities” and the “future priorities” – get the squad that will bring you success.
  • Consider the strengths of the different players – Do you have a Messi in your team?
  • Define which points will give you the best leverage to win.

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Select competent team players

People make up teams, and competent people are needed to create a competent team. You may have the most experienced and skilled team but unless you can find the right combinations and ensure the players work well together, you will always struggle to get that all important win.

There are two types of competencies in teams: technical competencies and personal competencies. Both of these competencies need to be present in every team for it to function well.

Further, the selection of members should be done relative to the team structural model. A large portion of successful teams can be attributed to ownership and accountability of the team members.

We need to understand what technical and personal competencies are needed to master every position on the field but also what kind of team structural model we need. Rather than opting for identical skills for every team member, ensure a good balance of skills.

Put everybody in a position to succeed. Players need to own their positions on the field and should be passionate to extract the most value out of each position but also strive to play a collaborative game – i.e. there is no “I” in team.

Clarify roles and expectations

Understanding how you as a player fit into the team, contribute to milestones and the role you play in the teams tactics is very important. Roles, accountability, and ownership are intertwined in any organisation, and in team based organisations it becomes important that everyone understands their role.

The role of the players:

  • Define & describe the contribution to the overall game.
  • Define the KPI’s that will demonstrate the success of this position on the playfield.
  • Collect knowledge about the position (documents, images, videos).
  • Write at least one blog about this position.
  • Define 4-5 steps (initiatives) with milestones and success criteria. Allocate teams to the initiatives.
  • Define “how these steps” will be executed – provide more detail.
  • Track progress of the steps required.
  • Maintain scorecard and assessment of this position.
Draw insights from the crowd

It is no secret that home ground advantage has a massive impact on the result of a game. This is largely to do the support of the fans sitting in the stadium. It is their support that drives the players to do better and reach that next level.

Successful teams turn their home grounds into a fortress that opposing teams fear. The capability to turn this energy and support into results requires creative ideas and the ability to identify new learning’s in a dynamic way.

Crowd sourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas or content on a specific item by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community.

By provide access to your work and ideas you will turn the crowd into fanatical supporters because cheering us on and helping us to win. The crowd often sees the game from a different angle than the players themselves. Open up the floodgate and let the ideas into the stadium.

Play to win

Herman Edwards, a visionary coach said:

“The first thing to understand is that WINNING matters, persevere, do not be afraid of making mistakes. When you see opportunity, grab it. Make the will stronger than the skills. Make everybody accountable. Do not waste energy on unknowns. Do not point fingers.”

Create close feedback loops between expected outcomes, knowledge, actions and outcomes for each player.

  • Demand discipline.
  • Battle the negative.
  • Watch the clock.
  • Learn the way.
  • Show the numbers.
  • Respect the journey.

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Finally, recognize and reward winners

  • Best team of the year.
  • Best coach of the year.
  • Best player of the year.
  • Best idea of the year.
  • Best initiative of the year.
  • Best results of the year.
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THE BALANCED SCORECARD

The Balanced Scorecard was developed as an answer to broader concerns about the use of both financial and non-financial measures in performance measurement systems. (Kaplan & Norton, 1992:71). The Balanced Scorecard model incorporates four major perspectives: finance, the customer, internal business processes, and innovation (learning and growth) (Kaplan & Norton, 1992).

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CASCADING CHOICES

A.G. Laffey and Roger Martin (2013) designed a strategic framework based on Strategic Choice Cascade. The first cascade level represents the higher-order sets of choices which determines the overall longer-term ‘goals and aspirations’. The second level supports clear definitions of ‘where to play’ and ‘how to win’ which stakes out the competitive position. The final two levels focus on the activation, it basically represents the required articulation of what is needed to guarantee that the strategy can be operationalized.

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As graphically illustrated, choice options cascade down from the higher-order choices. The aim for the higher-level cascade is to provide context and to constrain the lower-order choices. The model assists in choices becoming inter-related ensures that choices fit in context and constraints from the higher-level. Difficulty in fit is an indicator that the higher order requires urgent revisiting. The cascading effect is therefore a constant, dynamic two-way flow.

COGNITIVE TENSIONS

Cognitive tensions, also known as cognitive contradictions, occur when the mind is confronted with two or more contradictory ideas that come together. This stimulates the mind and forces us to think which leads us to making new connections or insights. In business, organizational tools are used to purposefully create cognitive tensions to motivate reframing (Doz and Kosonen, 2008). Stretch goals, such as ambitious vision statements, can be used to challenge the usual organizational practices and services. When these visions are reinforced in a ‘burning-the-bridges’ approach, leaders commit themselves and their organizations to major change or transformation.

Cognitive tensions increase when contradictory goals and multidimensional structures are introduced. These goals and structures force employees to search for new solutions that stretch beyond routine responses and take multiple perspectives into account.

COGNITIVE TENSIONS AND THE MATRIX

According to recent research, organizations require governance structures or frameworks that have the capability to contain their complexity. Fortunately, matrices are a great way to solve complexity since matrix structures facilitate rich information flows, innovative solutions and allow for fast resource transformation.

Since the beginning of time, the structure of the matrix has appealed to the human mind. A matrix is simple, powerful and accessible to everyone. It enables us to filter out noise and construct brilliant solutions through cross-functional collaboration.

In 2003, Scientrix pioneered the use of a matrix architecture for complex problem solving. Complex problems have more than one dimension, a dimension being a concept that can be broken down into variables. A matrix architecture enables us to integrate multiple dimensions within a problem statement, to subdivide the problem into parts and to master one part at a time within the context of the whole.

Normally our minds can only deal with 3 to 5 concepts at a time, but in a matrix we can deal with multiple concepts, and the interrelationships between these concepts, simultaneously. We can also construct solution architectures that enable broader participation, while maintaining the cohesion of the different parts. These architectures require a combination of engineering, architecture and practical solution construct.

‘Matrix thinkers are creative, visionary problem-solvers’ (Regan, 2014). Matrix thinkers do not think in a linear manner, as in, a leads to b, leads to c. Rather, matrix thinkers think in a 3-dimensional manner. Well-known matrix thinkers include Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, John Lennon and Bill Gates, to name a few. These individuals are innovators who significantly impacted the way we do things today. They have the ability to make connections between concepts that seem unrelated, which often leads to revolutionary new solutions and ideas (Regan, 2014).

Likewise, matrices are a great way to help us make the connections between concepts and to blend these concepts into something new.

EXPLORING COGNITIVE TENSIONS

Let’s explore if the balanced scorecard and cascading choices can be used in a different way to discover interrelationships between seemingly unrelated concepts. What will happen if our strategic priorities or cascading choices (dimension 1) are connected with the perspectives of the balanced scorecard (dimension 2)?

Cascading-choices-and-balance-scorecard-Scientrix-matrix

We used this approach to map our own strategy and were pleasantly surprised how much clearer our plans became. Making the connections between each aspect of the balanced scorecard and our strategic priorities enabled us to create a focus on how to achieve each of our outcomes, highlighted the cause-effect relationships and enabled us to see our strategy from multiple perspectives, all in one holistic view. However, in order to translate back to the balanced scorecard, we had to drop one dimension but we were still happy with the fact that the matrix helped us to derive better concepts and insights.

Organizational agility-strategy-Scientrix-matrix-framework

This whitepaper has demonstrated how cognitive tensions increase when contradictory goals and multidimensional structures are introduced. When we start combining traditional methodologies, such as the balanced scorecard, with matrices, imagine the possibilities we would have to master our strategy and execution. In the end, cognitive tensions between these methodologies help us to make sense of chaos within organizations, and enable the design of structures that unleashes the full potential of the people and resources within.

REFERENCES

Doz, Y. and Kosonen, M. (2008). Fast strategy. 1st ed. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman.
Kaplan, R. and Norton, D. (1992). The Balanced Scorecard – Measures that Drive Performance. Harvare Business Review, January–February 1992 Issue.
Lafley, A. and Martin, R. (2013). Playing to win. 1st ed. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press.
Regan, H. (2014). How to Identify and Utilize Matrix Thinkers. [online] thoughtLEADERS, LLC: Leadership Training for the Real World. Available at: http://www.thoughtleadersllc.com/2014/02/how-to-identify-and-utilize-matrix-thinkers/[Accessed 26 May 2017].

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SCIENTRIX | Menu

SCIENTRIX | Quick Connect

Telephone:
+353 1 566 5220
+27 21 205 1681

General Inquiries:
Matrix Team

© Scientrix 2018 | All rights Reserved

Terms of Use