New People on the Bus
I’ve been thinking a lot about mergers and acquisitions lately. I think they’re going to be happening more and more now, as credit re-loosens, allowing organizations that have done well to acquire those that haven’t done as well or that have consciously positioned themselves for acquisition.
I thought the attached blog post was very interesting; my partner Jeff sent it to me primarily because we (Proteus) are formalizing expertise we have around helping organizations through major transitions into a defined Transition Support offer.
What we’ve found is that when a corporate deal gets made (acquiring, merging, divesting, etc.), the players at the top tend to focus almost exclusively on the deal goals…that is, “what we hope to gain by doing this.” It may be cost savings, broadening or strengthening a brand, getting into new markets, simply having more “heft” in the marketplace, gaining new capabilities, removing a competitor – or some combination of those.
And those are all legitimate and compelling goals. The problem arises when, in focusing on those goals, the senior folks forget that achieving any of those things depends upon the cooperation, skills, clarity and experience of the people in the organization. It’s easy to think of the deal (from that 30-thousand-foot level) as a kind of “insert tab A in slot B” kind of a operation. But an organization isn’t a clockwork; it’s always primarily a collection of human beings. And human beings – unlike cogs – operate more or less effectively depending on what they understand and know, and how they feel.
One of the things I like about this blog post is that, although the bulk of it focuses on making sure you’re not overpaying for talent in doing an “HR Acquisition” (and does so very clearly and insightfully), the author, Fred Wilson, also includes the following paragraph:
I believe what Fred’s saying is true not just of HR acquisitions, but of any acquisition. Failure most often happens because people important to the merged company’s success aren’t well-integrated, get frustrated, and either leave or become less engaged and productive.
I’ll bet as you read this, you’re thinking of at least one situation that you either lived through or observed where this happened. It seems like something businesses need to do differently….