Every product org is a matrix org

Change my mind: Every product development organization is a matrix organization.

What’s a matrix org?

A matrix org talks about having two bosses - one “functional” boss and one “project” boss.

So why does this apply to product orgs?

Product development is complex. You need multiple specialists to do it well: designers, writers, frontend developers, infrastructure, hardware, marketing.

Each of these “functions” probably has a leader and standards, i.e. design standards, software architecture standards, terminology standards, etc.

But every product also needs a “product manager” to coordinate across all these functions.

So there are 2 bosses, and you have a matrix org.

As a designer you have two bosses. A design lead that is setting design standards, and a project lead that wants to do something that conflicts with those standards. Designers face “we always put labels above form fields” against “for this product or project, it feels better underneath”.

Or a developer balancing “add this feature variation” vs “follow our arch standards”

Or a writer balancing “this word sounds better” vs “we always use these words”

This is a tale as old as time. Luckily they did some good work in the 70’s to write about it, the challenges and how to balance it.

What about your org? Are you more guild oriented? Or squad oriented?