Helix Organization Model: How Powerful this ‘Future Model’ Speeds Up the Organization?

Helix Organization Model: How Powerful this ‘Future Model’ Speeds Up the Organization?

By making people led by two different leaders, a better balance is a critical thing that ‘Helix’ tries to create in an organization.

“Separating people-leadership tasks from day-to-day business leadership can help organizations strike a better balance between centralization and decentralization, reduce complexity, and embrace agility.”

A business environment that goes interconnected can lead anything to be more complex. What McKinsey tried to propose by the Helix Model is that there should be something impactful to replicate a complex Matrix structure that seems like it doesn’t work anymore.

They came up with the idea of ‘Helix’. It’s not a new one, but some professional-service firms and large global companies have been using this concept to bring agility to their company. Though it’s been around for years, the idea of striking a better balance to the organizational structure has not been clearly defined and articulated.

Helix Model as a New Proposal

In this modern era, the ‘dotted-line reporting’ brought by Matrix tends to put the synergies —which Matrix itself tried to create— down. The Helix further possibly replaces the Matrix with its limited varieties.

The idea was initiated by McKinsey from an article they have published “The Helix Organization ” in October 2019.

Tried to counteract the traditional Matrix model by moving away from an orthodox dotted and lined reporting distinctions, the ‘Helix Model’ focuses on day-to-day business in which tasks and responsibilities are handled by the separated leadership.

When the ‘Matrix’ potentially creates tensions and complexifying lines of accountability by its two parallel lines, ‘Helix’ helps organizations make a better balance by collaborating the concept of centralization and decentralization.

“The helix organization provides a balance between flexibility and stability that is the hallmark of a truly agile approach

The key to succeeding in this mode is in how an accountability aspect of the traditional management tasks is split into two lines. When it comes to power and authority, it may seem equal. But it’s fundamentally distinct.

Dive deep into the ‘Helix’ Organization

Helix designated two managers in a company. One of them is called “capability leader” and the other one is “value creation leader”. Both of them have to agree on certain aspects: what and who to deploy to projects, business units, and initiatives.

Let’s investigate what McKinsey thought about ‘Helix’ by looking at the differences between Matrix and Helix.


  • Matrix roles typically have one primary “boss”, identified by a solid line on the organizational chart.
  • The first boss is in charge of holding resource and budget-controlling, and;
  • Responsible for hiring, firing, promotions, and evaluations.
  • The 1st Boss is also responsible for directing, supervising, and prioritizing daily work.
  • The secondary boss is represented by a dotted line.


  • Helix divides people-leadership tasks into two sets of tasks and executed by two different managers.
  • There is no ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ manager as it’s applied in the Matrix.
  • Certain roles such as hiring, firing, giving promotions, training, and capability building, are provided by one leader.
  • While another leader makes decisions about other things like prioritizing goals and work, quality assurance, and daily supervision of tasks execution.

Helix at a glance:

  • More traditional structures usually trigger tension, power struggle, and conflict. But in Helix, there should be less for those issues because the two roles are distinguished.
  • Two lines of authority will give privilege for certain positions like designers, salespeople, engineers, and other functional experts. With no burden of serving as day-to-day supervisors, the flexible structure will make them more empowered.
  • As it creates two managers at once, some tasks and responsibilities regarding the needs to get done such as value creation and steering the part of the business are handled by the first manager.
  • As opposed to, in case of how things get done, the tasks and responsibility come to the second manager. The second manager furthermore will be more focusing on resources, talent, and creating working standards.

How Helix is Implemented

In succeeding this model, structural changes are needed. As McKinsey illustrated in the article “Four considerations for helix success beyond structure (part three)”, at least company should apply the following goings-over:

  1. Seeing through transparency, flexibility, and value

The company can apply a quarterly priority process (QBR) to take advantage of this model. Technically, a company needs to define quarterly priorities across value creation areas. Further, ‘capability leaders’ have the chance that given by value-creation leaders’ to match supply to demand in case of skills and roles.

2. Building a talent marketplace

To operate the right people at the right time, a transparent talent marketplace should be constructed. Creating a digital marketplace will ease the company to list demand and supply by keeping it transparent. It also helps leaders have a deep understanding of human resource availability.

3. Setting the “We over me” mindset for leaders

The company has to support leaders in shifting their mindsets over the organization’s culture. By having a “we over me” mindset, leaders would be able to run a day-to-day business out of the solid people line. To put resources and business requirements in the best way, and create a partnership and trust culture, there should be a strong culture of collaboration.

4. Balancing the two roles of performance management

To run the Helix, there should be an alignment of two people leaders. Both of them have to participate in reviewing the performance of employees and incorporating feedback from the hiring and firing process.

How Does It Expectedly Benefit the Company?

We could see how the Helix Model attempted to give the main benefit due to that situation by eliminating convoluted dotted-line reporting.

The main concern of Helix is the ‘day-to-day’ leadership by putting several bosses into ‘one’. As it becomes more flexible, there will be empowerment between employees to be more actively contributing.

Pointing to the employees’ side, Helix gives employees wider opportunities to grow within the company. From the ways of how to be better employees in innovating, sharing, decision making, and carrying out actions, we could notice how effectively Helix counteracted the inflexibility of Matrix.

The wider opportunities exist, the higher the positive effect to nurture the company. At least it affects two basic things in a corporation, talent retention and job satisfaction. By using this model, the knock-on effect would stretch up the prolonged excitement of the new talent.

  • Helix’s structure supports the company getting through a fast-paced environment by making a flexible project team.
  • With no dotted-line reporting, employees have a wider chance to innovate, share, and take decisions and actions. It will also give them empowerment.
  • A new perspective brought by Helix also brings a positive effect on job satisfaction and retention.
  • Employees will see the organization’s perspective as an opportunity to grow within the company.

The new fresh “Helix Model” comes up to overcome the complexity of Matrix’s dotted-line reporting. Instead of holding a Matrix or a top-down model, Helix designed the company to run a two-way model. With an important role played by two managers, the model seems like a pretty good way to blossom the company.