18 Apr Just Do Something!
I recently attended an M&A Integration conference in Europe, and was struck by how many presenters mentioned a reluctance to act quickly and decisively in the first 30-100 days post deal completion, to establish the desired culture, operating model and supporting systems in their target company.
A number of the presenters, who had senior M&A or Integration roles in their respective organisations, expressed the preference to “take it slow” and “let things settle down” before tackling the challenge of assessing in detail their newly acquired target, then defining and implementing their integration plan.
The rationale, as best as I could determine, for this “do nothing” approach was that the pre-deal activities had been traumatic enough for the target organisation, and besides, the target had been acquired because they were already a successful, profitable organisation, and therefore the acquirer needed to tread carefully lest they “kill the goose”.
As an experienced integration practitioner, this “do nothing” approach frustrates me no end. As an acquirer, you only have a limited window of opportunity to understand your target in detail, define your operating model, then drive your transition plan to rapidly achieve your objectives. For the first 30-100 days, the integration team has a unique opportunity to capitalise upon the momentum of the deal, and also the openness to change inherent in the target employees. The window of opportunity closes all too quickly, and if your integration plan has not been clearly defined, with execution well underway by day 100, then you will never again be able to create that sense of urgency required to drive through significant change.
Hence my mantra: “Just do something!”
You will make mistakes. You will get things wrong. But by planning and executing your integration with speed, decisiveness, and respect for the individual your mistakes will be tolerated, and the resulting momentum will ensure you deliver the value that underpinned the rationale for the deal in the first place.