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Why M&A Needs a Pre-Merger Cultural Roadmap?

While selecting the right acquisition target, purchase price and a clear understanding of where and how to integrate acquired resources are a must to ensure post-merger success. Leadership and M&A firms can further increase the odds in their favor by outlining way in advance of the merger a brand and cultural roadmap that will stabilize the workforce, bring clarity to the path forward and position the entire organization for success.

Whether the acquirer is looking to strengthen their business model by bolstering their core assets, or is looking to reinvent their current model by transforming it, culture is the catalyst in activating the corporate vision and the values that serve as the guardrails for the combined company’s people and managers as to why and how things will get done.

How to Approach the Cultural Roadmap?

Peeling back the layers on the target brand

More often than not, little is done to understand the positive and negative implications of the target’s brand, and questions that should be asked early on in the merger conversation include:

  • What should be changed vs. retained?
  • By changing, will we be increasing or depleting the brand’s value?
  • Will it create confusion in the marketplace or alienate its customers?

Managing culture pre-, during and post-integration

To remove any misconceptions between the two company cultures, begin with  making potential areas of friction much more visible:

  • Perform a pre-, during and post-survey to gain real-time cultural insights across both organizations.
  • Conduct one-on-one stakeholder and customer interviews. Questions could include:
    • What are the pros and cons of their business versus ours?
    • Are there cultural elements we should adopt?
    • Who should change and why?
  • Hold strategic workshops with a cross section of the new organization’s leadership, with a goal of aligning strategic, brand and cultural goals against desired outcomes.

Cultural signposts that will reinforce behaviors

  • These cultural identifiers or artifacts will represent the outcomes and cultural insights uncovered during first two parts of the roadmap process.
  • They will be brought to life through messaging, imagery and branding that will further galvanize the new culture by uniting it under one clear voice, vision and mission.
  • These verbal and visual cultural signposts would be activated across all physical and digital brand touchpoints across the enterprise.

By incorporating a cultural roadmap, the leadership team can take a very introspective look at the culture that the acquisition has today and how it maps with future aspirations, while discovering cultural inconsistencies ahead of time that could potentially dilute efforts to integrate the acquisition.

Questions? Email me here to understand how your next M&A investment would benefit from a cultural roadmap.

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