M&A Essentials by Topic

Are you a member of the “3 a.m. club”? In organisations doing acquisitions, mergers or integrating significant parts of their businesses, there are particular topics that keep business leaders awake at night. How familiar is this territory for you?

  • What could happen if we stuff this up?
  • Do we have the best leaders and right talent in place to deliver (and how can I inspire and keep them)?
  • What kind of organisation do we want to be going forward – how can we be sure we build a culture that supports delivery of our strategy and attracts the right talent for the future?
  • How can we be sure our people, customers, suppliers and shareholders understand why we are making the changes we are making, what this means for them, and what is expected of them?
  • How will we balance care with speed to capture fully the value expected from the changes we are making?

Isely Associates partners with clients to address these leadership, culture and communication challenges at all stages of mergers, using these opportunities to drive change and create value. And, importantly, we provide tools, training, resources and/or a ‘guide along side’ to ensure people teams are well prepared and effectively supported to deliver as expected in this important work.


An important value creator (or detractor) in mergers is the capability of the leadership team as a whole, as well as the behaviour of individual leaders. Particularly at these critical times, all eyes are on those at the top – how they behave, the decisions they make (and fail to make), what they say (and don’t say) and everything they are seen to tolerate (or not). These strong messages either will enhance or obstruct a smooth process of setting up the future organisation for success.

Examples of Leadership diagnostic tools and typical projects are here.

We work closely with top teams to ensure that leaders are coherent, aligned, focused and prepared for the challenges ahead, and that critical talent is identified, strengthened and retained for as long as needed.


When top executives are asked about lessons learned following a merger or acquisition, more often than not they say they would have invested much more energy and effort in communication, even when deals are successful. Too often we see acquisitions or mergers not achieve full potential in a timely way, due to confusion, duplication, rework, misaligned messages and/or inertia.

Click here for examples of communication diagnostic tools and typical projects delivered.

We partner with relevant stakeholders to create and execute clear, concise and well-targeted communication strategies, plans and feedback loops to align and focus efforts of all players.


Being in a position to identify potential cultural alignments, enablers, mismatches and disruptors well before deal time is a sure way to accelerate value creation in transactions.

Very seasoned organisations growing by acquisition have this down pat; less seasoned campaigners end up working this out as they go along. We meet clients wherever they are and take a pragmatic approach to minimise cultural risks in their current transactions, whilst building awareness and capability for future deals.

Following are examples of typical cultural diagnostic and project work delivered at each stage of the deal cycle; work done in early stages lays the foundation for what happens in later stages. One stage builds to the next, with best practice being to start as early in the cycle as is practical, given the realities of access to key people, appetite for this work and availability of information.

Strategy Stage

Depending on expectations associated with particular deal strategies and goals, certain patterns of behaviour will be more effective than others to achieve a successful outcome.

Click here for examples of useful diagnostic assessments and typical culture focus for the Strategy Stage.

We partner with Top Teams to understand their business imperatives, identify (or confirm) future culture strategy, assess the current culture, and help map how to bridge the gap most effectively.

Deal Stage

Deal teams are perfectly placed to identify and initially evaluate the cultural attributes of a potential partner, and to spot possible cultural tripwires that can quickly erode deal synergies. However, deal teams seldom have a clear cultural blueprint of what to look out for, how to assess it, and how to report back on it, particularly in the Diligence phase.

Click here for examples of useful diagnostic assessments and typical culture focus for the Diligence and Planning Stages.

We support and coach deal teams to bring more “science” to the “art” of evaluating and mitigating cultural risks mid-flight, first to the critical point of finalising a purchase and sale agreement, and then in more detail right up until the time a deal closes.

Implementation Stage

Post-Day 1 is a critical time to address real and potential cultural issues – whether or not these have come to light through prior cultural work. It is a time of cultural recognition, education, appreciation and creating a clear plan for cultural management going forward. Importantly, it is also a time to recognise, celebrate and, possibly, grieve for cultural legacies.

Click here for examples of useful diagnostic assessments and typical culture focus for the Establishment and Optimisation Stages.

We guide new leadership teams through the challenging Establishment phase to align expectations and behaviours to the business imperatives of the future organisation, providing guidance and insights that make it possible to better navigate potential pitfalls. Our work during the Optimisation phase is different for every client, depending on mix of progress since close and capabilities developed along the way.

People Function

How well equipped is your People Team to spearhead the work needed to bring employees through a merger, acquisition or significant restructure with respect, care, efficiency, compliance and speed? Having this capability in house or “at the ready” externally is a key factor in a successful process.

Click here for examples of diagnostic tools used and typical projects delivered in support of building capability in the People Team.

We assist People Functions to “look in the mirror” to identify any gaps in processes, structure, delivery, experience, knowledge and/or resourcing. We then help them to quickly fill identified gaps through internal development, external sourcing or more likely, a combination of these.

How to start

M&A Capability Review

Take this time-limited opportunity to kick start preparation for your upcoming deal. Underway already? Use this offer to check progress and stay on track.

Diagnostic Assessments


Diagnostic Assessments


In the best-case acquisition scenarios the acquiring entity understands it’s own current culture and has a clear view on what cultural attributes will be important for future success, even before potential partners are on the scene. This way cultural impact and cultural fit can be reliably assessed as a part of the due diligence process to identify any “show stoppers” and to determine a realistic timeframe, level of effort and investment required for deal implementation. In a true “merger of equals”, ideally both parties will know themselves and work together to determine the cultural attributes important for the future success of a combined organisation.

Diagnostic Assessments

Culture Focus

Diagnostic Assessments

Culture Focus

Diagnostic Assessments

Culture Focus

Diagnostic Assessments