Paul J. Siegenthaler

"Anyone who stops learning is old,
whether at twenty or eighty" - Henry Ford

Success in M&A calls upon a different skill set than running an on-going successful business. Understanding the difference is crucial.

Preparing your Executive team for “Business as Unusual”

In recent years, I have been asked by companies which are either contemplating a merger or acquisition, or are about to embark on one, to create a tailor-made course aimed at raising a management team’s awareness and understanding of the specific issues and challenges that need to be managed in the run-up to a merger or acquisition and during the subsequent business integration. In some cases, these courses are part of a wider programme developed by the London School of Economics (LSE Enterprise) or Manchester Business School for corporate Clients.

Beyond generic real life examples and case studies, these courses build on the Client company’s own data and actual circumstances which are of direct relevance to the participating managers; the trainer(s) are bound by non-disclosure agreements and consequently even sensitive or confidential aspects of the future business integration may be discussed if the Client company so desires. This allows them as a group to get immersed in the situation they will soon be required to manage, start discussing and planning their forthcoming due diligence and the roadmap of the post M&A integration, and get a good grasp of the cross-functional interdependencies and other constraints they will need to consider throughout the integration journey.

How much depth ?

As these are tailor-made workshops, there is no “one size fits all” : much depends on the intent of the session.
At the lower end of the spectrum, this could be a simple two-hour awareness raising session during a management conference of a business whose strategy includes possible plans to seek business to acquire or the creation of a major alliance, with the aim of getting its managers thinking ahead of the implications of such a potential merger or acquisition.
As hypothetical M&A plans gain in substance and become more imminent, there is a need to analyze the topic in far greater detail : at this stage, the acquisition target or merger partner is known, and one can start discussing the real consequences, issues, challenges and risks arising from the projected merger or acquisition. This may call for a couple of workshop sessions: the first one at the onset of the due diligence process, the next one at the end of due diligence if the company intends to proceed with the acquisition. Depending on the scope of these workshops, these could be a full-day focused on how the integration programme will be set-up and run, at the end of which the participants will have a sound understanding of the prerequisites which need to be in place to enable a successful integration, including the governance, programme team organisation, resources and environment which need to be set-up ahead of the start of implementation.

If the scope of these training workshops needs to include leadership capabilities and take an in-depth look at the way change will be driven in the specific circumstances of the Client company, the workshop can extend over two or three days and then requires the input of several trainers to provide sufficient variety and detailed subject matter expertise.

How would this apply in the case of your company ?

Let’s discuss your company’s aim and circumstances. Contact me to schedule an initial telephone or Skype conference call; I may suggest possible options, based on my experience with other companies with which I have run training programmes in the past, in a variety of formats depending on the management team’s experience to date and likely complexity of the issues the company is likely to face during its integration. Then it is up to you to decide the way you wish to proceed. 

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