Are You Working in the Matrix?

  • By Shawn Sommerkamp
  • 27 Apr, 2017

The Matrix is a science fiction movie created in 1999 by the Wachowski brothers. It depicts a simulated reality created by sentient machines which subdue humans, put them into a dream state and use their body heat and electricity as a source of power. Near the beginning of the movie, we see a computer programmer working in a drab corporate environment, unfulfilled and looking for a way to escape.  

This is probably the most familiar context for answering the original question – whether or not you are working in the matrix. What I’m referring to, however, is not the sci-fi world of Morpheus, Agent Smith and Mr. Anderson. The term “matrix” also refers to a management structure in corporate America. Designed in the 1970’s, it sought to eliminate silos and promote greater efficiency.      

If you are not familiar with the rules of engagement of a matrix organization, then playing in this world may be just as confusing as the simulated reality found in the Wachowski movie.

To state in plainly, a matrix structure is the practice of working within teams cross-functionally, where you may be required to own an outcome you have no authority to govern.  

Leaders in this type of organizational structure oversee individuals who are not direct-reports. One of the best examples is a project implementation scenario. A project manager is responsible for delivering a project, but all resources vital to project delivery have their own managers.  

Thriving in a matrix requires that we learn how to influence others without having authority over them.  

Matthew 7:12  “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

Those who succeed in a matrix environment have learned the importance of showing respect and humility to every colleague, no matter how demanding the work. The savviest companies use a matrix structure to help identify rising stars. After all, it can be quite difficult to achieve departmental outcomes without stepping on toes or having the right to command behavior.

Those unsuccessful in matrix environments tend to rely on job title and delegation of authority to demand performance. If you are not certain where you stand, ask yourself how much conflict you experience in each week. If it’s a noticeable amount, then you may perform better in a hierarchy.  

Matrix structures provide an even greater benefit. Since they tend not to be hierarchical, it becomes easy to create job openings or department realignments that facilitate promotional opportunities. In fact, as an ambitious Christian professional, matrix environments are the best places to farm greater opportunities for growth.    

Proverbs 16:7  When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

As you become more aware of your own matrix, the most important area of focus is pleasing the Lord. Make righteous decisions. Let your conversation always be full of grace. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slot to become angry. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And the result will not only be an environment of career potential, but one of greater peace.

Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.

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By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes. 

And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:

By David Mitchell 09 Jan, 2018

It’s early January. 

The Holidays are over. 

It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year. 

A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following… 

‘It’s The Most: 

  - Stressful
  - Sad
  - Crazy busy
  - Cash poor
  - Lonely
  - Weight Gaining
  - Overrated

 …Time Of The Year.’`

It’s not that you are ‘Bah Humbug’…

You want to enjoy it, but it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”

Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”  

...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.

Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 20 Nov, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:18   Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life.  This is easy…right? 

A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:    

  • 90% of people said they would describe themselves as people who are generally grateful for their family and friends
  • However, only 52% of women and 44% of men express any thankfulness regularly
  • 60% say when they do express thankfulness, they do it to make themselves feel good

Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK 

  • 74% of the 2000 respondents never or rarely show gratitude at work (for anything)
  • 70% want their boss to be thankful for them (even though they don’t express thanks)
  • 81% would work harder if they were thanked by their boss or company 

Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for.  Wow! 

The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.

By Dave Mitchell 17 Nov, 2017

Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters came out? They were quite the RAVE…

They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.

Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.

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