Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

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

C suite leadership

Interviews with Asian Leaders – what did we find?

A first for iROAM (inarticulate Ramblings of a Management Consultant)! I have asked my co-inteviewer to give his perspective on the interviews we conducted. Abhay Pande made some comments below which I wanted to share with you. My friend Ben de Haldevang and I spent a fair bit of time over the spring and summer of 2016 talking to a number of Asian senior executives, across several sectors, about their […]

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How does it look from over there? The perspective of Asian buyers / leaders on M&A in Europe and the USA

Over the next six weeks, I will be publishing a series of interviews which I and a friend of mine, Abhay Pande, conducted whilst based in Singapore. These interviews were born of a shared interest and desire to get beyond the myth and legend of Asian corporate culture and business practice and actually get some insights from Asian leaders that we have in our network. The facts are plain enough. […]

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Productivity and Creativity – awkward bedfellows or birds of a feather?

The Guardian recently published a long but interesting piece on the history of time management (from Taylor forward). You’ll find the link here. For me, the bit that’s really interesting and that feeds well into the current discourse is the differentiation between productivity and creativity. If you have a moment, do a bit of research to see how these two concepts are portrayed. Even 20 seconds googling will provide you […]

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The great unravelling

Dear friends (those of you who have signed up to this blog are almost inevitably that!), it’s been a while and I realise that I have broken the cardinal rule of blogging… that is regular, predictable and interesting pieces of short, concise and opinion filled content! Many of you will know that I and my family have been through a process of ‘re-potting’ as it’s described these days…a return to […]

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Anchoring….a challenge for corporates as it is for individuals?

With many thanks to my good friend, Alastair Campbell, for an impromptu conversation this week, I wanted to raise an interesting issue. Do the principles of anchoring apply to companies as much as they apply to individuals? To remind you, the concept of anchoring is based on the short circuit in our brain which applies a correlation to unrelated facts / opinions and thereby can make us make some assumptions […]

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Three things to think about when preparing your company for a ‘growth by acquisition’ strategy

At the risk of sounding trite, the opportunities for successful acquirers have never been as great as they are now nor the risks higher! The market generally views with suspicion those who would target growth through deals as their primary vehicle (the Valeant and SunEddison story is another in the litany of M&A disasters…see here for my take on it) but for those who do it well, the leverage of […]

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When does a shareholder vote become a distraction rather than a real test of governance?

I’m struck by a couple of transactions in the last 6 months which have some unusual characteristics….and absolutely demonstrate the passive nature of both institutional and retail shareholders these days. The one in particular which I want to look at today is SAB Miller / Anheuser Busch. The announcement of the transaction between SAB Miller and Anheuser-Busch INBEV in the form of the public statement issued on 11th November 2015 […]

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M&A – bust as an idea or are we starting to differentiate between those who can and those who can’t?

Has the idea of growth through M&A finally been proven to be fundamentally bust or can we start to differentiate between those that are likely to fail and those that might succeed? Are there indicators which you might look for to identify potential success? I’ve been thinking about what might feature in those indicators….here’s my list: Personal track record of complex transformation (ideally in remedial situations) within the leadership and […]

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Sponsorship – comes in many shapes and sizes

A few years ago when I was contemplating the opportunity to come to Asia and going through a rather tortuous International Mobility exercise (which seemed full of process but lacked any sense of progress), a colleague whispered to me the secret of all such moves….’sponsorship’. Find a sponsor, he said, one who has money and influence, and all the obstacles you’re currently facing through the ‘official’ processes will magically disappear! […]

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How would you approach change if employees were given a vote?

A few years ago I was involved in the merger of two UK law firms, one with a focus on London as its main operating base, the other more regional in its operations.  One of the conditions for the deal to go through was 100% approval by the partners. In terms of numbers, we were talking about 124 people. Imagine having a hurdle in a project where, before any implementation […]

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Due diligence in an emerging market…identifying the right channels of information, sticking to the 80% rule and managing your parent!

I’ve written this blog from the perspective of the business which is being acquired…all of the examples below are from real situations but not from the same deal. I challenge you to picture yourself in this scenario: You’re the first, professional, externally appointed CEO of a family owned manufacturing business in Indonesia. Your business has been built over 2 generations and occupies a prominent position in the sector you occupy, […]

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Leadership in transactions – staying close but not too close!

With thanks to Toby Tester who suggested that I write something on this subject. Up until now, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the challenges of programme leadership for the post deal integration process, with all its complexities and more importantly, opacity arising from the peculiarities of the situation; lack of access to information, business case based on assumptions which cannot be validated until the deal is completed, […]

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What’s the big deal with hostile transactions?

The flow of transactions has been noted in this blog and throughout the financial press. In addition, the FT led an article earlier this week noting the volume of hostile deals (US appetite for hostile takeovers hits post-crisis high) as the M&A market heats up. I want to address in this some of the key challenges that distinguish hostile from friendly transactions. From my perspective, they fall broadly into 4 […]

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A new breed / identity of buyer from Asia – leading to a different result?

Fascinating times in the mergers and acquisitions market place with the number and size of the transactions unprecedented since 2007…a remarkable turnaround. What is most interesting is that for the first time in a while, the objective external observer can compare and contrast two very different types of buyers: The corporate European and American buyer whose motivation to do deals has been driven by the following factors: An unprecedented (at least […]

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The latest corporate card trick! Going from manufacturing to services in one simple step…

A friend of mine raised an interesting issue with regard to a major global and high respected ex employer of his. This business has recently declared a strategic intent to move from manufacturing as its core activity (and one for which it is justifiably famous) to becoming a services organisation. This is not unusual…just today there was an announcement in the FT about a similar path for another manufacturer in […]

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Transformation constipation – the new malady for corporates engaged in an orgy of transactions

For market observers, the current M&A boom looks disconcertingly like the heady days of 2007 and 2008 in terms of volume and market optimism. The papers and the analysts are full of hope and aspiration as the pharmaceutical, technology and telco sectors indulge in increasingly extravagant claims about cost savings, market consolidation and innovation pipelines….much as they did then when the market knew only one direction of travel. There is, however, one big […]

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The power of persuasion – changing public perceptions of deals

For as long as I’ve been working on mergers and acquisitions, the statistics have been dire. With some exceptions, commentators from the strategy houses to the big 4 to independent experts, have bemoaned the seeming inability of companies to consistently generate value from inorganic growth. I will leave the one piece of analysis which reports something different aside, see attached for some comments on that ‘interesting’ analysis! (https://bendehaldevang.com/2014/06/06/the-latest-ma-analysis-from-mckinsey-part-of-the-problem-or-part-of-the-solution/). What’s extraordinary […]

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Your organisational structure – is it working for you or have you found a way around it?!

With a shameless reference to Gary Hamel’s interview with Peter Day which I blogged on last week (the link is at the bottom of this blog), I want to explore a different approach with regard to organisational structure: What happens if we think about organisational structure as a means of communication, and not just control? As an aside, I suspect that for most of us, the control aspect of organisational structures […]

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Human capital – what does it actually mean?

With thanks to Paul Freeman for giving me the initial inspiration behind this latest blog / rant, I want to explore this concept today in a little detail. A long long time ago (in a far away land), someone thought of this phrase as a way of creating a linguistic connection between other forms of capital (financial, intellectual) and that troublesome group of costly, irrational and emotional and most importantly […]

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