Working with the Cards You’re Given 

 August 5, 2022

By  Steve Nunn

Play the Hand You Are Dealt

This is part of a short series of postings that discuss how integration teams must accommodate the set of criteria they are given by the Deal Team – those that carries out an acquisition.

Part 1: Working with the Cards you’re Given

Although integration is not a game of chance, like a card game, Acquisition Integration teams must play the hand they are dealt. Integrations are complex, therefore the variables that we encounter must be handled as they come.

The Deal Team models a vision of a merged business that delivers higher performance than the two businesses as they were before the acquisition.  The Integration Team’s responses and actions are a result of:

  • Leaning into Our Experience
  • Prioritizing the Reasons for Acquiring Over the Wishlist
  • Handling the Unexpected Discoveries

Leaning into Our Experience

Integration teams must know how to deliver. Assessments of the prospective business includes discovering best practices and exemplary people. We take note of the assets and the opportunities they offer. We leverage procedures and products that demonstrate the progress that the business to be acquired would bring to the table.  We identify personnel whose role and experience are irreplaceable. 

Prioritizing the Reasons for Acquiring Over the Wishlist

Integrations discover great products that need better marketing, human resources that need to be mentored properly, and sales teams that need different compensation plans. However, these are not the priorities of the acquisition so they are not part of the integration objectives. The Integration Team must balance the needs of growing the business with achieving the underlying goals of the acquisition.

Experienced integration teams balance the pursuit of the opportunities we see, with what we must do to achieve the integration objectives derived from the reasons for acquiring.

Handling the Unexpected Discoveries

The Integration Team’s mandate is to deliver value and integrations are planned to deliver that projected value identified by the Deal Team. However, there are always discoveries after an acquisition is complete: sometimes setbacks, and sometimes bluebirds (unexpected positive benefits).

How Does an Integration Team Deliver, when Dealt a Poor Hand?

  • Having the experience to manage multiple activity threads
  • Focusing upon the big picture and applying pragmatism in what is delivered, and when
  • Supporting workstreams to deliver their tasks
  • Encouraging consistent visibility and vocal support from leadership
  • Integrating first and improving second, to take advantage of opportunities

No matter whether the hand is good or bad, experienced players will use what they get to deliver better results.


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