Turnover has its virtues. Used correctly, it gives you a chance to reconstitute the workforce. The simplest, most straightforward solution to transforming corporate culture is to switch out people in the acquiring and acquired companies. Nothing else has the potential to so quickly change the chemistry of the culture of the newly merged organization.

Take downsizing. Do it in a discerning manner, and you can reduce the size of the resistance forces. Second, you make room for replacements that have the characteristics needed to establish the new culture. That’s important, because it’s not easy to change culture without new blood. Don’t hesitate to fire non-performers and offload the anti-change people. It’s far harder to convert the resisters than to bring in new people who’ll embrace the new culture.

The organizational immigrants arrive more open-minded, and assume it’s their job to adapt. Incumbents, on the other hand, too often can’t find it in themselves to change their stripes. Outsiders come in excited, happy, eager to please. And while these newcomers are intent on proving themselves in the new culture, insiders can be guilty of presuming that the new culture should prove itself to them.

Outsiders arrive in a responsive mood. They’re more open than incumbents are to establishing new work habits. Outsiders come in focusing their energies and abilities on producing results. Insiders, meanwhile, worry too much about “me issues” and waste energy resisting change. New hires, since they haven’t been nesting in the existing trees, are willing to hack down the cultural forest. They bring a fresh perspective, and can expose your people to new ways of thinking and working. They come in without any investment in the old culture and its power structure. They aren’t locked in to its traditions, values, or beliefs. That alone can make a big difference ...