Avoiding the innovation deep freeze
Historically, the focus of many M&A deals has been on growing market share and cost advantages. For these types of deals, a traditional approach to M&A integration makes sense. Leaders start by planning and determining the integration milestones they’ll need to reach. They then move through the integration process by following a sequential set of activities. The steps are stage-gated and predetermined.
Many M&A deals today, however, are about more than gaining scale or cost savings. They’re equally about securing new capabilities and innovations to create new customer experiences, drive new behaviors and grow revenues. For such deals, a traditional approach may not be the best choice. Why? Because it tends to push innovation to the bottom of the priority list. Considering that most large transactions can take 12-36 months to complete, a business risks having no—or severely reduced—innovation for an extended period while competitors surge ahead.
M&A: Modern & Agile
An Agile M&A integration approach enables incremental and continuous innovation to proceed during the integration. It’s flexible and highly iterative. Activities are tackled in short sprints, each focused on immediate priorities and requirements. It’s also highly collaborative. Fast decision making is one of its most important characteristics.
Agile approaches in M&A are well suited to projects involving the integration of technical solutions or activities focused on building revenue synergies with new customer-facing processes, systems and algorithms. They should augment rather than replace traditional approaches that are still best for instilling discipline and consistency in the integration of certain functional areas such as finance or compliance.
A catalyst for lasting change
A hybrid M&A integration approach, which draws on the best features of Agile, changes the integration game. It allows companies to focus on efficiency gains and new business opportunities. It helps companies manage risk—both reputational and executional—by giving teams the tools to focus on different aspects of the deal with different methods. Thanks to the highly collaborative nature of Agile, the new approach also ensures a better cultural fit between different entities. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the merged organization to sustain—if not accelerate—its innovation agenda and maintain market relevance.
Pressing the Agile accelerator
Companies can take three broad actions to maintain their innovation edge during—and after—M&A integration.