View from the Trenches: Mr. Best Practices

"Real Life" Success Stories, Best Practices & Case Studies

At our last workshop on The Art of M&A Integration, Mark Herndon, President of M&A Partners, shared an interesting story with us. This anecdote really resonated with me and bears repeating to this larger audience.

The Integration Project Director at a company that Mark was working with a number of years ago was coined Mr. Best Practices by the integration team for the challenge he laid on the group. He told the functional integration teams that he wanted them to identify 200 best practices that existed within the company that they were acquiring. While the team did not come up with 200 best practices, they unearthed a significant number.

Now this sounds like a fairly simple thing, but think of the very positive ramifications of this:

  1. It forced the integration functional leaders of the acquiring company to really dive in and assess the company they were acquiring during the pre-close in a better manner than they would have normally: how they were organized, what their real skills and capabilities were, their systems and processes, their culture and their “special sauce” (i.e., what made them what they were as a company).
  2. It caused them to think beyond the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome that so many companies have  and got them to look at alternative ways of doing things, the strengths of the other company and how those best practices could be leveraged in the combination to create a stronger, more effective business.
  3. It sent a clear message to the management and staff of the acquired company that the acquirer valued their business and them, saw things in them and their company that they could learn from and benefit by. The result was that it established stronger trust and credibility with the acquirer and led to more of an openness and willingness to be part of this new organization and accept the necessary changes required.
  4. It also created an environment of, “We are going to do the integration planning and implementation with you and not to you.”

As we have found in our extensive research as well as our hands-on experience it is just as much about how you do the integration planning and implementation as it is what you do. The key is focusing on creating value in the combination while managing the people (of both organizations) through the change process. I think this is a “head set” approach that more companies should adopt.

Submitted by Jack Prouty, President of the M&A Leadership Council