Driving cultural change after a merger-acquisition

Following a merger or acquisition, leadership often has wet dreams about leveraging the merger/acquisition to maintain the best cultural components of both company via the forging of a new culture, enhanced by the stronger points of each component.

Yet, there is no such thing as creating a new culture in a merger, based on the best of both companies. Following an acquisition or merger, there is an inevitable Darwinist struggle between weaker and stronger cultures.

In this short post, i shall relate to driving a culture change in a post-merger/acquisition environment.

One culture (generally the acquiring company) asserts its culture on the other and dominates it. There is very little that can be done to prevent this, although the degree subtlety may appear different. I am not even sure that this Darwinism is bad, because companies need one dominant culture  to enable integration.

Over time, the acquired company’s culture may have some minor impact, but this will be in the context of the dominant culture.

There are two areas of focus which can create some cultural change in the year or so after merger/acquisition period.

1 The acquiring company will need to focus on the creation of scalability in order to get value from the acquisition. This need can drive massive change.

2 The acquired company needs to go thru a period of mourning, to accept the new regime and to eventually join the acquiring company as individuals, not as a group.

Final comment:

Beyond the consultants role in enabling,  planning, execution and monitoring of mergers, a consultant would be wise to see his/her role as a midwife, not trying to fight some of the natural course of post merger events.

This having been said, there is a lucrative  market for pre-packaged crap (protocols)  that merge 2 or 3 cultures into one in a few easy steps.

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