Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

the day to day experiences of a consultant operating in weird and wonderful client situations

2015 and all that

It’s rare to have a ringside view of events on the global stage where the effect on one’s own part of the world is relatively limited. 2015 has been the year of mergers and acquisitions with whole sectors (pharmaceuticals, cement, beer, oil and gas) going through such a radical overhaul that they have indeed truly changed. In the majority of cases, the case for consolidation has largely been driven by cheap funding and an appetite / need to demonstrate progress to investors. For others, tax inversion has played a major part…and how that finally settles will no doubt make many advisers extremely wealthy! Finally, the distress caused by continuing low oil / commodity prices has forced the hand of some CEOs to make a pragmatic decision. The NOL deal in Singapore is perhaps a good example of this and one which we will see more of next year.

This though is the exception. In my 8 years in Asia, the contrast in activity between Europe / US and Asia is quite remarkable. With the exception of outbound deals (with China Inc starting to expand into certain sectors in Europe and the US, and the Japanese Insurance sector expanding into the USA), the volumes in Asia have been small, reflecting the continuing long term, family owned nature of business in SE Asia in particular where cross funding, different expectations of return and a reluctance to change the status quo until the point of no return still tend to drive corporate behaviour.

So whilst 2015 has been the year of great bombast and declared strategic intent, 2016 promises to be the year of regulatory approval and implementation…not quite so exciting but a lot more scary! Look out for a year of reshaping, bidders being held to ransom by the regulators who use their antitrust powers to powerful effect, stretched and stressed integration teams struggling with ‘transformation constipation’ as their portfolio of projects extends beyond all imagination, and resources become increasingly constrained and decreasingly productive!For a bit of fun, I’ve tried to capture some of the new language we’ve seen in 2015. Many of you will know that I have a bit of an issue (getting treatment currently) with language which confuses rather than clarifies…here then are a few terms which have surfaced this year (and which I’d love to confine back to the deep….or at least return to their more natural habitat!)

Narrative: Everyone / everything seems to have a narrative at the moment…by which I presume the word ‘story’ is too simple? What is it with creating complexity when keeping things simple is the sign of true knowledge and intellect!

Surveil: I blame Edward Snowdon for this horrific verbalisation of a perfectly decent noun. What is wrong with the concept that we are being ‘monitored’ or ‘observed’ or even ‘watched’…worked for George Orwell in 1984, with a similar level of menace!

Authentic: Sadly I have succumbed to the indiscriminate use of this term, mea culpa. It is everywhere from art to program management, from R&D to politics. Can we stop now please? It will cease being ‘authentic’ soon!

And finally with apologies to my American friends, I thought we’d arrested the progress of this word at the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines…but to my horror, I heard someone use the expression on the BBC last night!

NORMALCY….PLEASE STOP…normal is fine, even normality is ok….but this?

I will leave you with my one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons and wish you all a merry Christmas and wonderful New Year with friends and family. I’ve appreciated your support throughout the year and look forward to our conversations in 2016.



Categories: Communication, Language, Mergers & acquisitions, post acquisition integration, Post merger integration, Strategy

Tags: , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Hi,

    Please can you also include to your distribution list?

    Many thanks, SIok


    • Sent it through just now, Siok…invitations from WordPress occasionally end up in the junk part of your inbox. Hopefully not a comment on the contents! Look forward to your ongoing comments / thoughts / ideas…if you like what you see, please share it!


  2. Brilliant ­ you are speaking my language !

    Love from all


    UK Mobile: 0044 (0) 7748 692691 Home Office: 0044 (01) 451 844462

    Village Farm Little Barrington Burford Oxfordshire OX184TE

    From: Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant Reply-To: Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant Date: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 02:42 To: Jan de Haldevang Subject: [New post] 2015 and all that bendehaldevang posted: “It¹s rare to have a ringside view of events on the global stage where the effect on one¹s own part of the world is relatively limited. 2015 has been the year of mergers and acquisitions with whole sectors (pharmaceuticals, cement, beer, oil and gas) going”


  3. Anyone who admires the FT’s Lucy Kellaway and her Guffipedia column will echo your frustration with the corruption of language in business communications. It is a worrying trend, particularly in M&A, which only serves to distance employees from leadership at a critical time of uncertainty when the need for clarity, focus and plain talking is paramount. I have seen the good and bad practice over the years. I can though definitively live with ‘narrative’.

    A ‘story’ usually refers to a sequence of events with a start, middle and an end. It does not provide a framework or context of meaning in the way that narrative does. A narrative by contrast is a flow of events connected to a theme – it works in business because it can also have an implicit invitation to participate. Take Apple’s ‘Think Different’ slogan which appeals to us all about the potential of technology to help us break out of the conformity of mass society and express our individuality.


  4. Hi – please remove my details from your comments. Thanks


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s