Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

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

Culture as part of an acquisition – is it worth anything?

My focus in my last blog was to address some of the myths that exist, particularly around the thorny subject of what might constitute a cultural assessment. To be clear, I believe that these are good things to do…they can be one of the most powerful activities you can do in an integration to create momentum and change. My challenge relates to the methodology and process. This week I want to address […]

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Considering culture as part of post acquisition integration – ‘nice to have’ or something more?

Anyone who has spent any time managing a post acquisition integration will recognise that culture is a, and in many cases, the critical factor which can determine success or failure. This is not something new…and yet it still comes as a surprise for many acquirers. Despite this widespread knowledge, much confusion still reigns around what cultural dimensions to consider, how to find them and measure them, and then most importantly, […]

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In the education of a new generation, innovation cannot be the exception…it has to be the rule.

I must admit to a guilty secret. There’s a television programme in the UK that I find utterly fascinating, not because of its intended purpose, which is to find ideas to invest in but more because of the whole interaction between those who have capital, experience and commercial ‘nous’, and those who have passion, zest and an unerring focus on what they are trying to do. It’s too easy to […]

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The uncomfortable reality for CEOs today – the ‘incremental’ growth strategy is no longer acceptable

Everywhere you look these days, seismic shifts are taking place. Whether it is in: the burgeoning M&A marketplace where whole sectors are undergoing the sort of change that used to be once in a generation, or major established organisations declaring transformational intent which is nothing short of revolutionary (for employees, shareholders and analysts) or CEOs, imbued with the private equity spirit, are embarking on radical performance improvement within companies or […]

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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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Passive adoption of regulatory change – the dangers of outsourcing your ‘conscience’ to the compliance function

Many of you will have read Daniel Kahneman’s excellent book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ (attached link for a TED summary), or perhaps some of the other behavioural economics books such as ‘Nudge’ by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler. Some of you will also have read ‘The Social Animal’ by David Brooks. Perhaps you will also be aware of Rory Sutherland and his superb TED talks (see attached for my favourite) […]

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Buying it or developing it internally…the challenge of innovation.

  Over the past 6-9 months, we’ve seen an M&A frenzy which has been based on 2 considerations: the low cost of capital and the need to buy innovation. I’ve written about the latter before (see this link). From recent conversations with corporate strategists, the sad truth of the matter is as follows: In large corporates, disruptive innovation (not incremental) is either no longer feasible, cost effective (given the vagaries […]

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What’s the big deal with hostile takeovers? Employee engagement or the ‘Hedgehog’ phenomenon!

A couple of weeks ago, following the rash of hostile transactions (see this link to a good FT article on the issue), I wrote a piece on one of the key challenges behind ‘going hostile’, that of access (you can read it here). This week, my focus is Engagement. In many ways, all the problems of hostile transactions stems from this dimension (it is also, by the way, a challenge […]

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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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Innovation – can it continue to co-exist with the conflicting demands of the corporate world or has it become the playground of the individual?

For those of you based in the UK or generally interested in content from the BBC, you may have had a chance to watch the most recent episode from W1A, the hilarious new series about the ‘fictitious’ workings of the corporation. The part of the show from this week which stands out was when Will, the gormless, inarticulate ex-intern, comes up with a fresh, innovative idea for a new programme….which […]

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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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The cost of capital is less than the cost of innovation…a remarkable shift in the world of M&A

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6aad8ebe-e9c0-11e4-b863-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YTZwnnI3 The attached article from the FT provides a good insight into a remarkable change in the levels of activity in M&A, particularly in pharmaceuticals ($468 billion of transactions announced in 2015, an almost unprecedented rise and certainly the most significant increase since before the global financial crisis). A frenzy of activity therefore, some of which may be driven by not wishing to be left out rather than a solid […]

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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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