Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

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

Complex transformation

East goes West – Interview with Martin Lau, Managing Partner, First State Stewart

East Goes West is a series of podcasts focused on the challenge of Asian businesses coming to Europe and the US. Abhay Pande and conducted a series of interview with senior Asian leaders to understand a little more of the cultural complexity that exists across the Asian landscape, recognise the key differences and start to think about what an Asian owner might expect of a European and American  business. The […]

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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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You want effective communications in an acquisition? Recognise your employees’ perceptions as the actual baseline and own it…simple really!

Anyone you know who hasn’t been through a deal of some kind? I thought not…even those who work in the public sector will have had some strategic transformation thrust upon them. It’s a part of corporate life, whether you’re a senior stakeholder or an entry level employee.…and what has their experience been like, do you think? Positive…’I’ve learned from the experience and my career has been enhanced’ Neutral…’It’s only affected […]

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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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Where does effective post acquisition integration start? In the boardroom or on the office floor…

One of my reading obsessions for the last couple of years has been the subject of behavioural economics. A key finding (from the psychology arm of the science) is the concept of ‘unconscious bias’;  the idea that despite the contention from a rational perspective that we are not biased, the evidence suggests that we are influenced by colour and race in our decisions and inclinations. There’s a good short video on […]

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Revenue synergies – the last great hope in the justification of paying too much for too little

The announcement this morning of the acquisition of Baxalta by Shire suggests that the wave of pharmaceutical acquisitions is still ongoing. The current market fluctuation may help others to continue their quest in what is probably the largest sector consolidation we’ve seen in a decade or two. The Shire share price reaction is also interesting…a fall of 8% suggests that investors are increasingly concerned that for this specific deal, and […]

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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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Speaking in riddles – the unnecessary complexity of corporate lingo

 The more time I spend in consulting the more obvious it becomes; far from corporate terminology being an enabler of understanding, it is in fact a blockage. Anyone whose changed job knows that part of the steep learning process is learning the language. This is as much a part of the culture of a business as are the colour of its walls and the myths and legends that it carries. […]

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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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Collective or collaborative? What’s the best approach?

 The issues raised in a number of my recent blogs have led me to ask the question, is it better to use the power of the collective or the engagement of the collaborative in complex transformation. The nature of global corporates these days has changed with the increasing visibility, transparency and vigilance generated by regulators around the world. Each of these regulators bring different perspectives and pet requirements…but there are […]

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The big myth in post acquisition integration

If there’s one consistent message that I’ve heard over the last 15 years of doing post acquisition integration, it’s this:  Big deals are more difficult to integrate than small ones  Whether it’s the investment bankers / accountants / lawyers / consultants or Heads of Corporate Strategy, this message is probably the one thing that everyone agrees on. Complexity is directly correlated with size…for the following reasons: More people requiring more effort […]

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‘Practice makes perfect’ – a model of implementing change

Last week I wrote about the interesting interaction between these three dimensions as three different strategies for implementing change. This week I want to write one particular model of implementation, which I’ve called the ‘Practice makes perfect’ model. As you may remember, the traditional method (in a Western context) looks like this: Let’s now think about some variations on this theme, and in particular what to do when you come across a […]

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More evidence of the link between culture and M&A success

Many of you will already be aware of my focus on culture in M&A and it seems that it’s becoming more mainstream to talk about these matters.. Note the recent commentary in the FT on Holcim and Lafarge which tries to downplay the cultural dimensions…perhaps part of the problem is a blind acceptance in the media around business case as opposed to delivery capability! http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3/d1cc9938-cbec-11e4-beca-00144feab7de.html#axzz3UcoE3fgH The article below is a […]

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Policy, process and practice – the three dimensions of implementation (1)

I’m working with a client on a transaction in one of the larger markets in Asia. As often happens, the chance to work with some highly motivated and able individuals leads to some new ideas. Whilst in a team meeting, this model came to my mind and I wanted to share it with you. The challenge for any organisation in an acquisition is to understand what the triggers / levers […]

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Changing your organisation – using the science of ‘segmentation’

As the UK election looms, in what looks to be one of the closest elections in many years, I’m drawn to speculating what the new swing vote category is going to be called…we’ve had ‘Worcester Woman’ from Tony Blair and ‘Basildon Man’ from Margaret Thatcher some years ago so what next? ‘Portsmouth Pensioner’? The grey vote appears to be a major battleground ‘Teviot Teenager”? Does the momentum of the Scottish […]

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The changing face of the organisational structure…as defined by the new generation of employees

An interview recently conducted with Gary Hamel on the BBC World Service. Please click on the link below Peter Day; World of Business – interview with Gary Hamel This is worth 30 minutes of your time….I promise you. The key points from the interview: A call for a more dynamic approach to organisational structure and the commensurate implications for shareholders. Personal engagement of customers and shareholders in the lives of […]

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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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