Paul J. Siegenthaler

The rocket launch pad vs. the trip to the Moon

It is said that one only has one opportunity to make a first impression. In the world of M&A, that first opportunity extends over 100 days.
How helpful is this for the rest of the journey ?

The concept of “First 100 days” is an interesting one. It is not the time interval during which a task needs to be achieved, but just the barometer with which we get a sense of whether things are progressing in the right direction or heading for failure. The first 100 days lay the basis for trust or concern. A new politician elected on the basis of a four year programme needs to demonstrate within the first 100 days that some of the pledges of the manifesto have been kick-started, or will otherwise lose all credibility in the eyes of the public.

The same applies in the case of Post Merger Integration, however I have observed that the initial focus on the first 100 days is detrimental to the quality of the planning and knowledge transfer that need to take place beyond that initial milestone. There appears to be a perception that most of the integration work can be dealt with within those 100 days and that the dust will have settled beyond that time horizon.
 
Whereas the client company will have enjoyed the support of consultants and advisors in the run up to closing the deal and in the early days of the integration process, it is then left with its own resources and often a serious gap in experience beyond that initial launch.  After considering the cost of getting experienced resources on board, many companies will attempt to carry out the integration by themselves,  the plan being that they will resort to calling in additional resources only if and when the combined task of driving the integration whilst also running their business becomes overwhelming.  In reality, by the time the company realises and admits that it can no longer cope without external help, the ongoing business and the integration process might both have suffered significantly - putting things back on track will be challenging - it at all possible -  resulting in greatly increased integration costs and a gap in commercial perfomrance.
 
No one should underestimate the importance of giving the integration the right impulse from the onset : the first 100 days are the unique opportunity to build interest, energy and excitement in the company, but during that same time everything needs to be set up and ready to provide traction beyond the initial kick-start.  Sustainable change needs to be driven and supported over extended periods of time.  Client companies need to be made aware that post merger integration is not a 100 metre sprint, but more like long-distance running, possibly even a marathon.  And marathon runners know they can only succeed with excellent preparation and good coaching.


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Lack of Resources
and Experience
Pre-Close Focus
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Beyond the
First 100 Days
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