Our observations of successful integrations have shown some striking similarities. The biggest difference is the inclusion of a cultural integration plan among the other, more obvious plans such as Legal, IT, Financial, Operations, etc. Following are our observations:
* Integration GAP Analysis
Successful organizational (cultural) integrations begin with a formal GAP analysis. Common approaches such as “We go in and meet with the different teams…”, and “We expect the executive teams to know their groups” are clearly not working. There are many integration assessments being used today, including ours. Choose a reputable proven tool that provides the necessary data for a complete integration plan. Having the correct data is not enough. It is vital that the right people assess the data in order to arrive at effective conclusions in order to put the proper plans in place for success.
* Shorter Integration Time Frames
Successful cultural integration plans range from 6 – 12 months versus most 3 – 5 year integration plans that we see. A successful plan actually starts slower, builds a stronger foundation, and gets up to speed much quicker.
* Measure the correct variables
Successful plans measure data that gives accurate predictions on what will happen next. This differs from “dashboards” we have found that measure only historical data (showing only what has happened). Data points must include behavioral and action measurements as well as result data points. How you do something is as important as what you do. Choosing the correct data points, benchmarks, and meeting systems are found in all successful integrations. Also, based on initial measurements and results, we often see the necessity for these data points to change in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
* Accountability to the ultimate goals
Accountability to the initial goals of the merger, acquisition, turnaround etc. is an often missed key within the unsuccessful integration plans we have reviewed. “Good enough” is an integration killer.
Ultimately we are speaking of the successful change management theories that have been proven over the years. Our observations show that it is not effective to assume that individuals will get behind a cause for the money or because it is their job. Successful integrations begin with the realization that individuals need to be allowed to choose this commitment and understand this choice up-front.