When it comes to categorizing organizational change, mergers stand as the seismic event. Nothing else even comes close. Not even bankruptcy.

Unlike piece-meal change, mergers have it all. Consolidation requires a restructuring of sorts. Redundancies lead to downsizing. Cultures clash. Systems and processes must be reworked and reconciled. Policies and procedures get revamped. The product line can double overnight. The whole power structure gets renegotiated.

All this (and more) takes place simultaneously, and all in the white-hot glare of the public eye. Everybody’s watching—Wall Street, shareholders, suppliers, customers, competitors, employees, and the media. How’s that for real pressure?

Mergers shatter the status quo. Soon the entire organization seems off balance. Before long the destabilization begins to eat on people big time, and management worries that the place is going to overdose on change.

What do your instincts tell you to do? ...