Movement toward a delaminated matrix
Philips consumer electronics have reserached on it's production process through the process breaking of R&D department, going beyond the regular process of consumer, MIS, R&D and manufacturing process cycle, which they termed as - movement toward a delaminated matrix.
Philips consumer electronics
Philips consumer electronics, the North American division of the giant Dutch electronics corporation Philips NV, faced problem. Its R&D function excelled in developing new technology, but the company still could not put innovative products onto the market. Many technological achievements languished for years in the laboratory, and whenever a product did make it to market, it never made quite the hoped for splash. This was not because of lack of effort. Each technical specialty in the R&D organization as filled with energetic, hardworking engineers who were totally committed to advancing their discipline, and these specialists were ‘matrixes’ to teams overseen by project managers who had the responsibility of developing new products.
In wrestling wit the problem, the management team decided to benchmark other successful R&D organizations to see how they were operated. One was the R&D organizations to see how they were operated. One was the R&D group at Chrysler, which was responsible for bringing a number of trendsetting innovations to the automotive industry. At Chrysler, Philips managers saw that R&D personnel were rotated out of their individual departments to various ‘platform’ teams. A platform is the framework upon which a car is built, and different models have different platforms, although it is possible to put multiple versions of the same model onto the same platform. As members of a platform team, Chrysler’s engineers were no longer just members of their own technical specialty functions. Though these functions continued to exist, most of the actual engineering took place on the platform teams, while those back in the departments did more basic research intended to advance each specialty’s discipline.
After studying this arrangement for a week, Philips’ engineers were convinced that this was the way their matrix organization was supposed to work. It didn’t though, because although engineers were regularly assigned to product teams, they never actually left the R&D department. Consequently, their emphasis and thus their technology remained isolated. Philips began to experiment with temporarily moving engineers geographically out of their technical departments and onto product teams.
While there, the engineers would be evaluated on the team’s success in developing new products. For the engineer members of the team, this meant commercializing the latest technology from their areas of expertise by incorporating it into the next generation of new products. Once they had succeeded in that assignment, the engineers returned to their ‘homerooms’ their functional departments- where they continued to advance their technical disciplines. Meanwhile, others were rotated out to help develop the next round of new products.
By continually rotating engineers from ‘school’ out into the ‘real world’ of product development teams, Philips has been able to make technical advances while also seeing those advances move out into the marketplace. While it is too early to tell if the new organizational structure needs further fine tuning, the initial results suggest that it is a big improvement over the traditional matrix Philips had been using, and application of the new approach to managing the matrix structure is starting to spread to other functional areas.