Having a shared vision of the end-state of an merger or acquisition is required for the successful realization of the original deal thesis and value to be gained from the business combination – a Critical Success Factor. In our work, what we find is the end-state vision can be portrayed by a simple picture. This picture drives alignment among senior executives, investors, and the numerous stakeholders in the transaction and integration of two enterprises.
Below is an illustration of the alternate end-states two firms can adopt and use for various purposes inclusive of integration planning and execution.
- Holding company
- Decentralized governance
- Loosely coupled coordination
- Few shared resources and capabilities
- Synergy Model
Strategic business units
- Cost reduction
- Shared services
- Balance sheet combination
- Combined product lines, market segments, and channels
- Integrated technologies and intellectual assets
- Single operations and infrastructure
- One entity and governance structure
- New lines of combined business
- New value propositions
- New industries
- Integrated core competencies
- Step beyond the obvious
In the most extreme end-state, a transformed business combination, the new enterprise need not undertake all integration challenges in one move. A direct line between the pre-transaction firms and transformation does not have to be the only pathway. Senior executives and governing boards might select a progression of strategic integration moves. For example, the transformation can be achieved through a roadmap such as:
Multiple paths exist for achieving the end-state vision of new business combinations. Whether moving directly from the pre-transaction state to the ultimate business structure or selecting a series of strategic integration moves depends on the optimization of several variables such as:
- Financial goal
- Value drivers
- Market opportunities
- Speed requirements
- Risk tolerance
- Cultural differences
- Change capability
- And others
When considering potential mergers and acquisitions, what is your end-state vision? What are your strategic integration moves to realize that vision? Will these moves realize your deal thesis for value creation?
For those senior executives seeking to develop a new vision for their firms, I offer these key attributes of an effective vision. The effective vision should:
- Be differentiated. Is the vision substantially unique when compared to competitors and substitutes? Does the vision avoid the “motherhood and apple pie” trap?
- Instigate change. Is the new vision aligned with a change strategy? Are we trying to “fix” something that could not be addressed with the prior vision?
- Be inspirational. Does the vision attract people? People include clients, client prospects, employees, recruiting candidates, and people in the general community.
- Be motivational. Does the vision cause people to enthusiastically jump out of bed each morning to help realize the vision?
- Be enduring. Does the vision reach far into the future? How enduring is the vision? Will it catch a mega-trend in the firm’s chosen markets? The duration of an effective vision should be measured in decades, not single digit years.
- Be out of reach. Is the vision impossible to attain? If it is, then the vision is something employees will always strive to achieve. The vision will last beyond the lives of each generation of the firm.
- Be measurable. How do we know we are making progress? Is there something tangible that is not subject to interpretation?
- Be aligned with a human resource strategy. Will the vision cause employees to behave the way we want? Will the vision attract and retain the people we want? Do we expect the vision to drive out the people we don’t want? Is it okay for people to opt out and leave the firm?
- Be proudly shared. Is the vision one which can be whole-heartedly share inside and outside the firm? How will clients, recruiting prospects, competitors, and the population at large react to our vision? Does the vision align with the firm’s brand promise?
- Be easy to articulate. Can people consistently communicate the vision without stumbling or fumbling?
Some examples of what I consider to be effective vision statements, which admittedly do change over long periods of time, include:
- Coca-Cola: A Coca-Cola within reach of everyone in the world.
- Apple Computer: A computer on every desktop.
- Honda: Three Honda motors in every household.
For more about effective visions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org