Don’t Let Your Corporate Culture Hijack Merger Integration
from Lessons From 1,000 Deals
Some acquirers have a tough time following the fundamental rules for successful integration. The problem? Their companies’ cultural DNAis in direct conflict with integration best practices.
Properly executed, merger integration is a unique, highly specialized management drill. But some companies behave like it’s business as usual. They follow their habitual practices and politics as they tackle the integration process, just doing what comes naturally within their ingrained cultural norms.
I’ll paint a few scenarios to make the point:
- A bureaucratic culture favors a slow, regimented integration process where “carefulness” results in a tortured approach that actually adds risk.
- An acquirer with a gunslinger management style discounts the need for disciplined project management.
- A culture prideful of its frugality fails to allocate the management time or integration budget that the integration needs.
And why do companies make mistakes like these?
It’s because corporate culture is an overbearing beast, very protective of “the way we do things around here.” Culture is a bully—intolerant and sometimes ruthless—yet very self-righteous and pleased with itself. Naturally, this makes it very set in its ways. Corporate culture is the staunch defender of an organization’s status quo, even when status quo behavior is dead wrong for the company.
So beware, even if you see your culture as virtuous. Strengths carried to an extreme become weaknesses—you can have too much of a good thing. And strengths that routinely serve your organization well can fail you in a merger context.
Think about it. Can you trust your culture to call the shots, or will it violate the ground-rules for successful integration?