This competitive environment necessitated an innovation function that was highly
responsive to frequent changes in the marketplace. As a solution, Quantum based
the organisation of its innovation process on ﬂexible lateral (team-based)
structures, state-of-the-art functions or competencies, and appropriate incentive
systems. These required each team member to act as a ‘cross-functional
specialist’ (which of course may seem like a contradiction ‘in terminis’).
As those ‘cross-functional specialists’ had to strike a balance
between team performance and individual performance as well as between expertise
and experience, appropriate incentive systems were developed and implemented.
This need for ‘cross-functional specialists’ points to the dilemma
or the tension present in the innovation matrix type organization; an organisational
tension which is characteristic of most innovative companies. Any innovator
needs to balance the development of competencies (i.e. the development of a
sufﬁcient absorptive capability) with the imperative to achieve the results
expected from the projects and programs in the new product development portfolio.
The creation of a matrix type organisational structure, in which functional
competence areas and cross-functional project teams are intertwined and balanced,
often attempts to solve this dilemma. The successful innovation organisation
therefore requires a matrix structure balancing a clear division of inﬂuence,
power and authority between its project management component and its competence
In order for competencies to be allocated to and deployed in a breakthrough new
product development project, they need to be up-to-date and state-of-the-art
(I intentionally leave out derivative projects, since they often require only
minimal forms of project organisation). Hence, successful breakthrough projects
will have to be embedded in strongly developed competence areas. This calls
for a ‘strong’ matrix structure, where competence areas and project
management both are allies in resource accumulation and deployment, rather than
the one being dominated by the other. Both components of the matrix structure
have to be state-of-the-art in their respective domains of expertise and experience.
It is obvious that this presence of two strong organizational components carries
the germs for conﬂict situations. Hence, there exists a clear need for
professional ‘conﬂict handling and resolution’ capabilities
and strategies in the innovation matrix.