Lessons learned from a merger

Back in 2005 while working for English Nature I gave a talk to the Price Waterhouse & Coopers (PWC) Knowledge Forum and (in anticipation of our predicted merger) I asked them to pay me in knowledge by sharing with me their experiences and lessons-learned in mergers. One of their IT managers whispered the following into my ear:

  1. The worst possible scenario is a merger between equals. If you know that you need only one finance manager but have three candidates you must be seen to fill the post on merit alone, being nice or allowing political appointees leaves scars (see lesson 3).
  2. Accepting that two people will be disappointed for each of these triplicated posts you must be seen to plan and help the disappointed staff up front with a series of options or at the very least support and advice. In other words be seen to manage the unsuccessful not the successful appointees.
  3. Scars linger – If the process is seen to be in the least bit unfair, staff will take these scars into the new organisation and never forget.

Price Waterhouse and Coopers had merged in 1998. Coopers is a shortened version of Cooper Lybrand who merged some years before. Some staff (allegedly) after all those years (ie in 2005) still introduced themselves as ex-Lybrand staff to differentiate themselves from the current PWC culture.

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