The end of the Matrix? CSIRO set for major organisational overhaul

The organisational and management structure – also known as the Matrix – is set to be effectively scrapped as part of the biggest internal shakeup at CSIRO in more than a decade.

This follows widespread staff dissatisfaction with current organisational arrangements, evident from a Staff Association members’ survey and through CSIRO’s Organisational Arrangements Review process.

Download a PDF version of this bulletin here

In announcing the restructure to staff, Chief Executive Megan Clark acknowledged the criticism.

“Your feedback has been very clear that our operating arrangements are too complex and this is hampering our research teams. Your feedback has also been clear that we need to eliminate our “double” deployments and budgeting approach,” Dr Clark said.

What are the key features of the new structure?

Divisions will be abolished and replaced with a new structure comprised of nine Flagships ‘homes’, where all staff will be based.

A process mapping all staff to a Flagship home is scheduled to be completed by 1 July 2014. Staff not currently allocated to a Flagship will be mapped to a ‘platform’ within their Flagship home.

Staff deployment and resource allocation will then occur at the Flagship level, although the processes involved are yet to be determined.

How did we get here?

These are some of the key events in the history of the Organisational Arrangements Review.

  • June 2013: CSIRO determines to undertake a decadal review of its organisational structure.
  • September: The Staff Association surveys members and gets a huge response, which is overwhelmingly critical of many features of the matrix and working arrangements at CSIRO.
  • October: After a promising start, consultation with staff and the Staff Association is ceased by CSIRO.
  • December: The Staff Association presents members’ survey results directly to CSIRO Board members, noting the lack of consultation with staff.
  • February 2014: The Staff Association notifies a dispute over the continued failure of CSIRO to consult with staff.
  • March: CSIRO Board decision on a new structure is announced to staff.

What will be the impact on jobs and careers?

  • Roles in the new structure where clear duplication is identified by CSIRO may become potentially redundant. The Staff Association will enforce genuine consultation through this process.
  • Roles within Divisional Executive Teams and Divisional support areas are likely to be directly impacted. The Staff Association will work with members to limit job losses.
  • Roles in some Enterprise support areas may also come under threat.
  • Consultation with staff will commence to achieve more focused team structures. A change from approximately 160 teams across CSIRO to less than 100 teams is likely.
  • A review of the application of conditions of employment will need to occur, as Divisions will no longer exist. This includes conditions in redundancy and redeployment processes, promotions and rewards, and review and appeal rights.

What is the Staff Association’s position on the new structure?

Based on members’ feedback with current organisational arrangements, the Staff Association broadly supports the proposed new structure. Key factors that have influenced members’ feedback include:

  • the potential to reduce complexity and bureaucracy that has flourished over the last decade
  • the potential to improve productivity and reinvest savings into science and science support
  • the potential to simplify and improve the capacity of CSIRO to engage with external stakeholders

However, the Staff Association is concerned that the implementation of the new structure may be compromised by a lack of consultation with staff and through other organisational issues, including the current recruitment freeze at CSIRO.

How can we positively influence the implementation of the new structure?

Staff Association members will be able to influence the outcomes arising from changes to organisational arrangements. You can start by:

  • Providing feedback to your Staff Association delegate, organiser or by email to
  • Talking to your colleagues about joining the Staff Association, if they are not yet members.
  • Talking to your fellow Staff Association members and your organiser about arranging Staff Association forums to collectively discuss the changes arising from the new structure.

Staff Association representatives will be having regular, fortnightly meetings with CSIRO management, commencing within a week. It’s important that members supply comments, opinions and questions.

More information

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