Maximizing the value of mergers and acquisitions

Maximizing the value of mergers and acquisitions

Disney and 21st Century Fox. CVS Health and Aetna. Walmart and Flipkart. Loblaw and Shoppers.

In business today, the biggest headlines involve mergers and acquisitions. M&A has become the ultimate growth strategy, the easy way to boost market share, acquire technologies, break into new categories, or intimidate or buy major competitors.

In the first half of 2018, M&A activity hit a record $2.5 trillion – a sign of corporate leaders’ faith in this strategy. But the fact remains that most mergers don’t deliver the anticipated value. In 2016, leading business academic Roger Martin observed that “70% to 90% of acquisitions are abysmal failures.” There’s nothing wrong with the concept of M&A. When two companies provide complementary product lines, distribution and growth opportunities, 1 + 1 can indeed equal 3. Unfortunately, it’s the awkward merging of cultures – the coming together of two companies with different histories, processes and trajectories – that often results in sub-par outcomes.

One inherent problem in M&A is the tendency of the acquired side to feel like they “lost” in the transaction. This feeling of victimization can turn top leaders into reluctant followers, eroding the culture of success that made the acquired organization a desirable target in the first place.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In my involvement with acquisitions in my career, I have seen teams come together to make sure both sides win. Ironically, the biggest opportunity often lies with the acquired team. If they can shed the mantle of “victim,” they can create new opportunities for growth amid the larger reorganization.

I call this: “Be the cause, not the effect.” If we can focus management teams on creating their own best future – not clinging to past glories – we can make mergers and acquisitions a more predictably successful process.

In my experience, organizations on the selling side can take three steps to maximize the benefits of a merger for both sides.

  1. Cast off the “victim” mindset. Leadership is about powerlessness and passivity. Change the attitude of the team from “But, we’ve always done business this way” to “Let’s get on board and accept the mandate of the acquirer” – for everybody’s sakes.
  2. As leader, actively seek to understand the acquirer’s motivation. Why did they buy the business? How do they wish to unlock its value? As the true experts in this business, how can we help them achieve – and even exceed – their expectations?
  3. Create a culture of change, not stability. An acquisition presents a rare
    opportunity for a management team to push for substantive change. Ask,
    “What activities can we change (or drop altogether) to strengthen our core
    competencies? How can we manage our own affairs so we can reinvest in our most crucial activities?”

Let me give you an actual example of how this process has played out.

In one case, I was heading up a division of a multinational organization that had just been bought by a third party. I decided the best way to serve both organizations would be to take charge of change – and make sure my organization started contributing quickly and productively.

As soon as the deal closed, I actively pressed my new superiors for answers. “Why did you buy this company? Where do you want to take it?” Sometimes our new leadership didn’t have the answers yet. But by initiating these tough conversations, I ensured we became part of that dialogue.

I advised my team that the management that bought our organization expected to see us reduce costs by a certain percentage. That’s how acquirers unlock value: through synergy and simplification. But it had been some time since our organization had rigorously reviewed its operations, so I challenged my team to double that amount. “Tweaking” operations might get us through the current crunch, but it wouldn’t create new thinking. The acquisition was giving us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ask, “How would we run this business if we could start all over?”

Our team went to work with gusto. No longer victims, they unleashed their energy and creativity to take charge of our future. We inspected every business fundamental with an outsider’s eye. With the help of external consultants to guide our discussions, we asked, “What’s necessary, and what’s not? Where’s the value-add in every process?” We discovered new epiphanies and efficiencies, and sacrificed some parts to enhance the whole. Given a situation we couldn’t control, we created a meaningful initiative that demonstrated we were still winners.

In the end, our team was so successful creating new value that we were able to reinvest some of the proceeds back into our business. By acting instead of reacting, we were still determining our own destiny. We were cause, not effect. Over the following year, as the two corporate identities fused into one, our people retained their pride and their faith in the future.

If your organization is wrestling with change initiatives, or anticipating an M&A event, remember that optimists accomplish more than pessimists. Focus your people on the bigger, positive picture. Help them win. There’s an old nautical saying: “I cannot control the wind, but I can adjust my sails.”

Saquib would be happy to meet with you to discuss how your organization can benefit from “Cause, Not Effect” leadership. Give him a call at 647-338-5762. Or email him at

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The future is here, introduce yourself and say hi

The future is here, introduce yourself and say hi

Aether and Credo presented the unique Humanizing Innovation un-conference ( that combined knowledge transfer, skill building, storytelling, and networking in the Dynamo of the South—Chattanooga, Tennessee. The summit focused on ways that companies, organizations, and individuals are humanizing innovation to drive positive change and sustainable growth. Attendees learned how to create, contribute, and connect the atoms, pixels, currency, and heartbeats required for the ever-evolving experience economy.

The summit was designed to provide actionable next steps to generate a measurable impact for your organization. It introduced participants to others through meaningful discussions, taking part in collaborative experiences facilitated by thought leaders, and inspiration by the next generation of activists, designers, business leaders, and technologists, all while experiencing the best food, music, and culture the region has to offer.

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Spyder Works teams up with ICG to amplify “Ecosystems of Opportunity”

Spyder Works teams up with ICG to amplify “Ecosystems of Opportunity”

For more than a decade, Spyder Works has been a leader in studying and applying intrapreneurship best practices. Now we are pleased to announce a collaboration that will enable us to better deliver intrapreneurship knowledge and training locally and worldwide.

Earlier this year, Spyder Works forged a collaboration with Internal Consulting Group (ICG), a growing global network of more than 4,000 consulting and training specialists. ICG’s commitment to organizational change, thought leadership and the process of innovation makes it an ideal partner to further Spyder Works’ intrapreneurship revolution.“Intrapreneurship is the most powerful innovation tool we have, because it solves businesses’ two biggest problems at once,” says Spyder Works CEO Ken Tencer. “Intrapreneurship empowers people throughout an organization to generate ideas for positive, lasting change. And this mindshift produces dramatically higher levels of employee engagement and retention.”

“We’re delighted to partner in this groundbreaking work,” says Gerry Purcell, ICG’s Global Partner responsible for its North American business. “Spyder Works’ leadership in business transformation will appeal to organizations all over the world that are looking for more effective ways to master continuous innovation and attract and retain their best talent.”

And that’s not just the usual press-release blather. The two organizations first got to know each other in 2016, when ICG named Ken Tencer a Global Thought Leader for Innovation and Intrapreneurship – an honour accorded only to individuals who “have proven themselves in the application of management science to business problems on a significant scale.”

The two organizations will jointly promote Spyder Works’ intrapreneurship programming. While the programs will initially be delivered by Spyder Work’s executive team, Purcell and Tencer look forward to training new teams from ICG’s global network of senior, experienced practitioners. “As demand grows,” says Tencer, “we will be proud to partner with ICG’s proven change-makers to ensure our approach to intrapreneurship reaches all the organizations that need it.”

Purcell believes that innovation execution is the key challenge facing business today. “The world is changing way faster than it used to, and organizations are struggling to keep up,” he says. “The problem isn’t a lack of ideas, it’s knowing what to do with an idea when you have it.”

A recent survey by the global Intrapreneurship Conference ( found that only 5% of organizations are seeing significant returns from intrapreneurship. Spyder Works’ process institutionalizes profitable change by helping visionary senior executives take ideas to market with entrepreneurial employees through a process of guided risk-taking. “This isn’t just about learning,” says Tencer. “We create productive new relationships and advance your business strategy.”

Spyder Works’ programs are delivered by its education division, Icicle Learning. Intrapreneurship programs are offered in three formats: as one-day introductory workshops, five-day “sprints,” and longer-term immersive formats with available coaching and consulting support to move your business today. All sessions include preparatory research into clients’ organizations to ensure all learning relates to their objectives and their market.


The power of intrapreneurship is its ability to address both short- and long-term needs. “We can help drive short-term returns with the sprint forward,” says Tencer. “But we can also inform one- to two-year initiatives and create an ecosystem of opportunity that will underlie long-term strategic projects.”

As ICG partners with select thought leaders around the globe, this agreement marks an exciting opportunity for Spyder Works. Says Tencer: “We see this as one more exciting step towards Spyder Works’ vision of becoming the business consultancy of choice for mid-market organizations and intrapreneurs globally.”

For more information on Spyder Works intrapreneurship programs,
contact Ken Tencer at

For more information on Icicle Learning,
contact Vivian Hisey at

For more information on ICG,
contact Gerry Purcell at


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