Four Common Approaches to M&A Integration That You Should Avoid

By Price Pritchett

I’ve been thinking.  We need a more colorful classification system for how companies go about the merger integration process.  You know, a new nomenclature.  So I sat down and did some reflection. 

Going through my memory bank, I pulled up some of the most common patterns I’ve seen as companies are acquired and merged.  Since so many deals go bad due to a mangled integration, I decided to start by categorizing the dysfunctional approaches.  Here, in no particular order, are my top four:

“Hair on Fire”

This is a fire-fighting approach to merger integration where management, reacting to the tyranny of the urgent, lurches from crisis to crisis.  For lack of planning and discipline, impulse rules.  Priorities are constantly changing, resources are poorly allocated, and people lose their bearings.  This produces a lot of wasted motion and unnecessary stress.  The integration process becomes a high-strung, confusing drill that keeps the organization off balance as management continually responds to the last pressure point ...