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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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