Mark Dobson – Merging Company Cultures


Okay, so let’s look at merging cultures. If you had two houses next to each other and
they both had a barbecue that turned into a late night function with lots of great energy
and great mood but two different functions. One was inside. One was out in the backyard. Someone said, “Hey, let’s get these two
parties to join together.” Somebody ran through the back fence, opened
the gate. “You guys should come over here. You guys come over here.” They took down a fence. When those two parties come together, they
rarely become more, rarely. It’s possible, but they rarely become more
because some people were really enjoying what was going on here and these relationships. Other people were really enjoying this dynamic
and this kind of music or this kind of food or where they were sitting or these people’s
energy. Then what happens is the two parties come
together, and what you find is all the people really will separate into what suits them. People will start to leave, got another function;
I’ve had enough now; things have changed here. You’re left with people who are quite happy
with the crossover of the two, and that group is much smaller than the bigger party. Well, that actually happens in mergers as
well, in company mergers. When two organisations come together, the
research really is that after five years they’re worth less than they were when they joined
most of the time. I think it’s like 57% of the time. So what we get is we get these two big companies
that look like two big entities. Wow, we’re going to come together. You’re going to get this big party, or this
big entity. But over the period of time, the party continues
and the merger continues. What you end up with are just the components
that could survive that crossed over. It almost like, you know, you always see those
two circles that cross over; what’s left with is where does it cross over. That’s largely because it wasn’t facilitated
to get the culture right and the dynamic right and the priorities right and the like so that
we could have a bigger party. So if we wanted a great party to kick off,
what would really have to happen is a little bit of discussion beforehand, but a few things
would have to be in place so that those two parties could be shared. For example, a simple one, if you put the
bar in the middle of those two parties and people were going to the bar, what we’d
be having is hey, chat to so-and-so, say hello over there. We progressively already have this thing shared. We progressively could see a few people and
progressively get the culture where if the two groups did talk together, “Ah, I saw
you over there before. You came over here. This girls out ordering a beer with me.” We’ve got something in common. Now, you know, how do we do that in a merger? Well, there are many ways to do it. It’s more sophisticated, but once again,
the merging of two cultures is possible. It’s an art form. But if you don’t get it right, your whole
party dissolves. Do you think that the cool kids stay at the
party if it’s a bad party? No, the cool kids go to another party and
you’re left with those people that think that they’re cool but they’ve had a bit
much to drink. They’re going to stay all night, and they’re
quite obnoxious and the like. In a company, you get the same. Do you think the cool kids stay? You get a couple of the core who are hosting
it and they feel the responsibility, but really the cool kids leave. So when it comes to managing culture, especially
with major organisations coming together, that is a very skilled, very deliberate approach
that’s required to have success there. It’s absolutely possible to have two parties
come together and for it to be bigger, but if it’s not high on your radar, as high
as the finance, as high as the systems that you’re putting in place, as high as the
marketing, the rebranding, it’s not going to happen. But it’s essential, and it’ll define your
organisation. Research easily proves that. Go find some stats. It’s easily provable that most organisations
when they merge drop down.

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