The old hierarchical structures have largely given way to matrix type structures over the past 15+ year for many corporate entities. The matrix structure achieves functional specialization and may deliver superior technical advice, in theory it allows everyone to do their part without necessarily being across all technical areas. The matrix requires additional communication and collaboration in an effort to ensure that silos do not take over the business - despite the additional costs and complexities, it has become a dominant structure for many large international businesses.
Firstly I see the matrix as not being great on developing staff across functions, and so it is poor at developing future general managers (ie the ones that head up divisions, countries and products that are responsible for full Profit and Loss). Oh so often the matrix appoints the head of engineering, finance and HR with title of "General Manager, XX function" - yet in reality they may not have general manager experience, they are quite likely to be Functional experts of Heads. Lets not get hung up in titles but the matrix is poor at giving a sales manager experience in finance, engineering or legal - likewise the matrix is poor at letting the technical accounting expert get experience in running operations or marketing.
Disruption is about fast paced, uncertain change - so it is hard to predict with certainty and may move faster than your organization can cope with. This new environment is difficult for the matrix structure to deal with as it is made up of technical experts that may find it difficult to take incomplete information and make decisions. In the matrix cross functional teams or a series of team meetings/collaboration are required - these will be too slow for the disruption ahead.
Organisations may not want to go back to a divisional structure as like the matrix structure it may be too slow and costly to survive in an environment that requires creativity, reactivity and has insufficient information.
The structures of the future need to be built for speed and for competition. The niche player that has less overhead and more authority may well be able to push or even beat players that are much larger due to their flexibility. If you write a disruption plan (see my book or ask me about this) then you should have a list of consequences should any one event occur. now consider how long it will take for your large organization to get the data, write the reports, analyse and then approve an action. For matrix organizations the time to adjust will simply be too costly and slow for the new age organization.
Dont wait for the next disruption, the next wave of AI or robots to force change in your organization - get prepared and write a disruption plan today. Build new structures and processes that enable your organization to be as nimble as your smaller, niche competitor !
Consider hiring leaders now with additional skills ready for Disruption ! avoid the lost opportunities of having managers without the leadership skills required.
If you are a Leader or seeking to be one in the future - you need to read, read, read about Disruption NOW ! Those that fail to understand and adjust will fall behind.
Feel free to ask Dr Mat via a chat or email on Leadership, Management or change issues, advice, consulting or mentoring that you may seek.
These and other related topics feature in Dr Mats book titled "Leading and Managing Change in the Age of Disruption and Artificial Intelligence" - written for the modern professional, student and academic - in fact anyone wanting to be ahead on modern Leadership and Management issues.
Dr Mats latest book is available through Amazon (kindle version or hard copy can now be purchased) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/1787563685 . This book has been strongly endorsed - so use this link to review the endorsements, or to preview Chapter 1, table of contents and the preface from Amazon (kindle version button) - consider buying this book or recommend it to professional colleagues or friends/family, students and academics. Dr Mat also writes for a number of professional and other magazines in his quest to spread knowledge on these modern important topics.
Dr Mat is also on Twitter - @DrMat14
Consider your own specific situation and seek professional advice before acting directly in reaction to any of the tips on this website, they are intended as general advice only.