Integration success needs to be aligned with top business goals that clearly articulate why this acquisition has occurred. Organizations will increase their chances of integration success by defining a concise set of business goals, and communicating these goals with relevant stakeholders to ensure that everyone understands and is on board to achieve them. The ‘why’ should be the pivot that drives the integration process.
Integration specialists will tell you that once an integration has started spreadsheets and checklists take over. At times, we are so focused on ‘what’ we need to do, we lose sight of ‘why’ we are doing it.
What’s critical to a successful integration is that we challenge ourselves to ensure that ‘what’ we are doing gets us to ‘why’ we are doing it. In order to keep the ‘why’ at the forefront, integration teams should:
- Ensure there are maximum of 3 – 5 main goals written down and shared with the team, that clearly articulate why we are integrating these companies. Where possible, explain where this integration fits in the company’s long term vision/strategy.
- Make sure your dashboard measures not only progress on the tasks, but how the tasks have moved you towards these 3 – 5 goals, and if possible the company’s long term strategy.
- Spend a few minutes in every integration meeting challenging the ‘what’ to make sure it will move you to the ‘why’. Don’t just do things because they are on the checklist.
- Make sure both the acquiring company team and the target team understands why this integration is happening. To make sure your message gets across, you’ll need to repeat yourself three times. This means: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, tell them what you have already told them.”
- Make sure there is buy in to the ‘why’. Allow people to question but make sure your non-negotiables are clearly stated, so it doesn’t discourage the process.
- If the 3 – 5 goals are not being met, have a meeting to discuss the barriers and or potential issues and delays. Make sure you think beyond tactics and look at culture, personalities, and motivations.
- As an integration champion, make sure your executive team and integration sponsors are consistently talking about the ‘why’, the impact to the business, and the future for the company and employees this is creating.
You can see above that a critical piece of integration is crafting and telling the story to all you are encountering during the project.
Next up: How to craft the story so people buy-in and are motivated to make the integration successful!