What has been your most memorable M&A experience?

If you can think of one, I’m hoping you will contribute to my “Dealmakers’ Guide to Humans” project.


I am writing a practical book about how to improve the personal experiences of business leaders and employees going through mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other scenarios where businesses are joined together or taken apart. My underlying hypothesis is that where organisations invest to improve the experiences people have whilst working on and living through deals, they also will directly improve deal outcomes.

A crucial step in this project is to collect the views and experiences of people who have been impacted in some way by organisations going through this type of significant change.

  •  I would love to have your input via a ten minute, anonymous survey. You can reach it using this link directly https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IAIDGH2 or if you’d prefer, just copy and paste the link into your browser.
  • And if any of you have a story to tell and a spare thirty minutes to share your experience in an interview, please connect with me via LinkedIn and we’ll set up a call.

To receive a copy of the research report go to http://iselyassociates.com.au/insights/research/ where you can register your interest. We’ll send you a copy as soon as it is available.

Finally, I’m looking for 5-8 people to be on my global reference panel in support of this work. It should be a bit of fun; no doubt we all will learn things; and (all being well) there will be a signed book for you at the end of a satisfying collaboration. Please apply for a spot by sending your contact details to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch to work out the way ahead.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Why M&A Deals (Still) Fail


Some hints: Strategy usually is not the problem; sometimes financial projections don’t include important considerations; and almost always it’s execution that falls short.

At the start of a current research project I’m working on [see below if you want to participate] I did the proverbial Google search on “reasons for M&A failure” to see if anything has changed recently.  My search returned 1.84 million results in under half a second. When I narrowed the search to include only studies, articles and blog posts since 2015, Google returned a pared down 553 thousand results.  In reading the major research and scanning the headlines of other entries, there were not new topics on this list.

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Merger Communication Effectiveness – Lessons from the Trenches

When top executives are asked about lessons learned following a merger, acquisition or business sale, more often than not they say they would have invested much more energy and effort in communication, even when their deals were successful. Too often we see acquisitions or mergers not achieve full potential in a timely way owing to loss of key people, customer attrition and productivity downturn.

Absent (or less than effective) communication is almost always a factor when organisations experience these troubles whilst joining forces. In addition to investment in communication excellence to drive deal success, other interdependent investments include leadership capability and organisation culture.

Immediate prerequisites for effective merger communication include clarity of purpose and strategy, a shared view of the deal rationale and clear cultural expectations. These set the context for what business leaders and employees are asked to deliver and how they are expected to deliver it.

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How Culture Operates – First 3 Months of a Merger


This post is by Jerome Parisse, originally published on the Walking the Talk website.  It is one in a series that Jerome and I put together to introduce a unique Culture Masterclass for M&A Executives, developed jointly by Isely Associates International and Walking the Talk. 

Two organisations come together

Each group gets to see what the other looks like.  Specifically what you see are the behaviours, symbols and systems of the other organisation. They may look like you, even talk like you.  On the surface they may be in the same business, and therefore undertake the same activities.  But very quickly you will notice that they are not the same as you.

Of course you will have heard some information already about how the other tribe operates.  Some of your members will have been involved in due diligence activities, or planning for the future acquisition.  Others may have worked there previously in their career.  Perhaps the other tribe was a past competitor, or someone you met at industry functions.  They might have been a customer, or a supplier.  You may share a parent, and be two divisions of the same group.  They will have a reputation regarding how culture operates, and you will know what it is.

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How to Manage Emotions in Mergers


This post is by Jerome Parisse, originally published on the Walking the Talk website.  It is one in a series that Jerome and I put together to introduce a unique Culture Masterclass for M&A Executives, developed jointly by Isely Associates International and Walking the Talk. 

Mergers are a unique situation culturally. 

During a merger or acquisition you have to manage culture in a different way.  Mergers accentuate cultural issues, which might have simmered along unnoticed in a ‘business as usual’ scenario.  Anyone who has been holding lingering doubts about whether there really is such a thing as culture will have no doubt after living through the first few months of a merger or acquisition.  Culture will jump up and hit you in the face!

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Put Culture on M&A Agenda from the Start


This post is by Jerome Parisse, originally published on the Walking the Talk website.  It is one in a series that Jerome and I put together to introduce a unique Culture Masterclass for M&A Executives, developed jointly by Isely Associates International and Walking the Talk. 


Senior executives and deal team members are best placed, but often under-prepared, to drive effective cultural outcomes.

Environmental cues for expected behaviour

Culture – “patterns of behavior encouraged or tolerated by people and systems over time” – is created from the messages people receive about what is valued in an organisation. And these messages come from three different channels: behaviours (what is role modeled, our actions), symbols (those small things that send a strong message, such as how a business spends time and budget), and systems and processes (anything from budgeting to performance management, measures of success, promotions and talent management).  Decisions made send a message via one or several of those three channels. Continue reading

Cultural Diligence in Mergers: Make it a Priority

Make cultural diligence a priority to ensure that culture enables, rather than detracts from, merger success.  These fundamentals, reinforced in content from earlier posts, are crucial in the strategy and early deal stages.

Start with culture capability

How do your executive and deal teams stack up on culture capability basics? If you can’t answer and emphatic “yes” to the following four questions work remains to be done.

  • Can every team member articulate clearly your organisation’s business strategy?
  • Can every member articulate clearly your deal rationale, strategy and approach, in the context of the business strategy?
  • Is there at least one deal team member that can communicate effectively with the others about your own organisation’s culture – current situation and future desired culture?
  • Does everyone on the team understand the effect organisation culture will have on business and deal outcomes?

It is important that deal team members know what to look out for culturally – ideally before any interactions between deal team members and a potential partner take place, Continue reading

Merger Integration: Choosing the Most Effective Culture Strategy

In the heat of a deal, too many organisations leave culture to chance because they mistakenly think that they can’t (or shouldn’t) make decisions about it until a deal has been completed.

Certainly I’m not suggesting that every detail be carved in stone before close, but having a clear view about where you’re heading and what type of culture will support expected business and deal outcomes will both smooth and quicken post-merger integration.

When time is money, it pays to prepare.

What do we mean by “culture”?

Generically, many would say culture simply is “how we do things around here”. As described by my colleagues at Walking the Talk Pty Ltd, culture is “patterns of behaviour that are encouraged, discouraged and tolerated by people and systems, over time”. Continue reading

Culture Strategy in M&A: Where Context is Everything

It may seem the obvious thing to do, but many organisations undertaking M&A do not effectively articulate and communicate the business case that underpins their decision to merge or acquire. Often this results in unexpected business and cultural outcomes.

Only by understanding overall business context and deal rationale is it possible to develop and execute a coherent culture strategy aligned to realizing value from a deal, as well as enabling future business outcomes for a combined organization. Continue reading

Culture Impact Trumps Culture Fit in Mergers

The most effective work on culture begins well before a deal is in full swing. With thoughtful preparation, a clear strategy and commitment to cultural alignment, organisations can improve their odds of achieving expected merger outcomes. Merger Cycle Most organisations start thinking about culture in earnest after a deal is signed or closed. Others, only when people start leaving the business – especially when people they want to keep start leaving in droves. All too late. To improve the chances of merger success, it is critical to have culture on the table well before diligence begins. Continue reading