I found 4 major fish on the plate each time in all post merger integrations that I led.
1) The impact of corporate cultural diversity on the merger.
2) The differences in national and ethnic cultures involved in the merger
3) The “change of power” political dynamic on the part of the acquired, and the need to stabilize and align an effective power structure.
4) The competence of managers handling the complex labour of integration of units, processes and people.
While it is very lucrative to do many cross culture seminars in the early PMI phase, this not the way to start. It is even more lucrative to pretend to “blend” or even “change” corporate cultures to create a “new culture”. Lucrative, but not too effective.
I see that the most effective interventions were those that focused on the following key drivers of post-merger success.
1-Lowering the level of post merger negative politics.
Realigning the “power dynamic” is a major PMI consulting task, which is beynd the scope of this particular post. I will relate to it in a later post.
2-Ensuring the appropriate staffing of skilled managers driving the integration on the ground.
Managerial competence is critical. This includes cross cultural competence, yet this cross cultural competence is only part of a huge bag of tricks that the integrating managers and teams need
3-Creating quality team work at the top.
Mergers can only to be good if they are good at the top. Cross cultural training must happen, and it will be meaningful to the degree that it is factored into the teamwork of the top team and other teams. So the focus must be on team effectiveness, not cultural training per se.
As far as the “creation of a new corporate culture” is concerned, I see this endeavour as “snake oil”. No one knows how to do it well, and it happens on its own. We are midwives in this process.