Traditionally the merger due diligence process has focused on legal and financial issues—e.g., contractual matters, litigation points, economic and fiscal considerations, etc. Obviously that’s an important exercise.

But when mergers fail, as they too frequently do, the odds are it reflects a sloppy job of soft due diligence.

There is powerful logic in favor of systematically assessing the competencies of key players in the new organization. You should not automatically assume that people who have been successful in a pre-merger environment will perform with the same effectiveness under a new regime and in a different corporate setup. People’s strengths often become weaknesses during a merger transition period.

It’s not at all unusual for an individual to be an all-star in a slow, deliberate setup style offense, yet be a loser in a fast-break game ...