Beyond the matrix

Increasing business volatility, rapid technological change and growing flexibility demands make finding the right balance between the primacy of business and the necessary functional centralization both more urgent and more difficult. We specialize in supporting management in the search for and implementation of creative organizational solutions for high performance organizations – beyond simply reshuffling the matrix.


Corporate organizations have seen many optimizations and restructuring cycles – from central/functional matrixes to market-oriented/decentralized matrixes and back. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that is not enough

  • to activate the layers of specialized functions deep in the bowels of the matrix – the specialist R&D laboratories, the EHS experts, the engineers in some unheard of, but crucial discipline,
  • to ensure overall performance, and availability, flexibility and breathability of resources in elaborate multi-interface service processes across decentralized and centralized matrix units and external contractors,
  • to enforce crucial technology and process standards throughout the organization and prevent uncoordinated, redundant and competing development efforts and solutions in the many pockets of the matrix.

“Simply switching the organizational matrix back and forth between market and functional orientation will not be enough.”

At the other end of the organizational cosmos, innovative businesses and startups have long been experimenting with ways to organize beyond a hierarchy-driven matrix organization. Holocracy works with circles of autonomous teams that have blanket authority to act and innovate as they see fit to reach their goal. Are these concepts beneficial for large organizations in the process industry? And if yes – which parts should be implemented, and how?

core beliefs

Time and again we have surprised and sometimes irritated our clients with a set of firm beliefs when addressing organizational tasks. Take a look at the insights that shape our way of tackling your next challenge.


We believe that big corporate players can find inspiration in new and innovative examples like agile organizations and holocracy. On the other hand, it is a misguided reengineering approach to simply set up corporate organizations like a tech startup. But agile organizations and holocracy can help to solve important challenges they are facing in further improving performance of their organizations.

Change everything – but not the org-codes.
Don’t waste your time in reorganizing teams all the time, focus instead on getting teams to work and middle management of all stripes to fully support team success. That way you avoid the efficiency dip associated with every change process. Focus instead on solving the real problems that would still be waiting for you after the reorganization dust settles.

Power to the people (working for you).
Eliminate time wasted for alignments and approvals. Stop clogging management with escalation of minor issues. Invest in a culture where teams move beyond turf wars and silo thinking and solve their problems – together and regardless of organizational codes. To do that, you need to provide a clear sense of direction to and strengthen ownership of employees and teams.

Look beyond your pond to catch bigger fish.
Transactional costs are down – and falling. In a highly collaborative and flexible world, much of the know-how and resources for optimization of your specialized business and operations reside outside your business unit or even your company. Reach out across the divide, use them for yours benefit and craft value creation partnerships!

Chip away at the laws of physics.
Production sites, physical assets and their specific environment structure and shape reality in the process industries. Often, the laws of physics limit your scope for optimization. But do not underestimate the power of digitization that will provide opportunities to overcome those limits.

how to

Learn how we approach a reorganization to make more of it than just a matrix reshuffle, and how we address comprehensive process optimization.

Develop a north star
To motivate and empower teams and employees, they need a clear sense of direction. It allows them to align their energy and work towards a shared goal. This “north star” should be evident, compelling and meaningful for all units and teams needed aboard to achieve the goal.

Empower your teams
Set up cross-organizational teams to work on prioritized tasks and set an iterative, agile work mode to work towards the targets as defined in your “north star”.
Refrain from spelling out all the details of your concept before handing it over for implementation. Be bold and leave it unfinished. Allow for your teams to fill in the gaps and to adapt a fuzzy interface around the kernel to the needs and demands of business units and markets. It will increase ownership of your employees and acceptance of your ideas by the business units and functions that must implement it.

Activate the complete value chain to contribute
Define ‘end-to-end’ not only as within your operating division or business unit. Stretch the ends as wide as you can and invite know-how and resources from contractors to contribute to optimizing processes and organizations. You will be surprised about the clear picture the companies to your left and right in the value chain have regarding your strengths and improvement opportunities. And how together you can realize optimization potentials that are out of bounds as long as you think in your respective corporate boundaries.


Typical 3con Contributions

  1. Turnaround of a large chemicals production site.
  2. Outsourcing of production-related site services for a chemicals production site.
  3. Preparation of a services strategy for the service provider of a large multi-user-production site with a difficult JV ownership structure.
  4. Redesign and implementation of end-to-end processes and structures for organization of technical services for a chemicals operating division.
  5. Shaping and implementation of an initiative to realize benefits in production by activating know-how of the respective analytics service provider across business units and sites across Europe.
  6. Optimization of production-related site services across 40 chemicals production sites across Europe.
  7. Design of group-wide functional optimization strategies for production-related site services across multiple business units and countries.
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In an increasingly hypercompetitive environment with new external competitors, changing customer needs and shorter product life cycles, innovation takes the top spot on many companies’ agenda. We are dedicated to help management unleash innovation potential on all levels: incremental and disruptive, old school and digital.