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Unravelling the Balance of Power in a Matrix Organization

At the heart of the operation of the Matrix Organization is the “Balance of Power” between the Project Manager and Functional Management. Yet, even if there is Balance of Power, the question as to who is the real boss remains to be asked. Theoretically, it should be possible to divide the authority and responsibility equally between the Project and Functional Manager. However, to do so is difficult. This also seldom occurs.

The Balance of Power

To assure a Balance of Power, a clear delineation of authority and responsibilities of both Project Management and Functional Management must be done.


Proper delineation of authority and responsibilities is necessary in a Matrix Organization where there is no one real boss. Where there is no one real boss, Balance of Power is expected to continually shift. The Balance of Power continually shifts in a Matrix Organization.

Understanding the RACI Tool

A RACI Chart is a matrix of all the activities or decision-making authorities undertaken in an organization set against all the people or roles. It is a powerful tool used widely in Project Management.  At each intersection of activity and role, somebody is assigned for that activity.

RACI is an acronym for

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Consulted
  • Informed

A RACI analysis is very useful in workload analysis, reorganization, employee turnover, work assignment, project management, conflict resolution, and in documenting the status quo. RACI is useful as a tool for delineating responsibilities and areas of Management.

When Project-Functional Interface Becomes Essential

Companies shifting towards a Matrix Organization must understand that the secret of the successfully functioning Matrix is not just a pure Balance of Power. The type of interface relationship between the Project and individual Functional Manager is also essential.

Being able to get things done by working through others can be one of the secrets of achieving a successful project management in the Matrix Organization. A successfully functioning Matrix is a function of the type of interface that exists between the Project and the individual Functional Manager.

Interested in gaining more understanding on achieving a Balance of Power in a Matrix Organization? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the Balance of Power in Matrix Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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