They’re coming! Are you coming?

At next week’s STC Summit I’ll present They’re Coming! Combining Teams and Cultures. If you’re coming to the Summit, I hope to  see you in my session on Tuesday, May 22, at 4:00.

M&A: it’s everywhere

graph showing growth in mergers and acquisitions worldwide

M&A activity has increased steadily, both in terms of sheer numbers (blue bars) and monetary value (red line). Source: IMAA

If you work for a company in almost any field, chances are good that you recently went through a merger or acquisition, or that you’ll go through one soon. Research by the  Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA) shows that M&A activity has increased steadily over the past 30 years, in every part of the world.

They’re Coming! is about the changes in people, workflows, and tools that accompany mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

On both sides of an M&A, fear might drive people to think They’re coming! A bunch of strangers is coming to take away my job or to wreck the corporate culture I’ve enjoyed.

Successful M&As don’t happen automatically. I’ve learned firsthand that they require thoughtful planning and deliberate action.

In fact, I’ve been on both sides. In 2005, when my smallish company was acquired by a bigger one, my colleagues and I sensed that the new company had no interest in how we did our jobs, or in whether we were doing our jobs well. We never felt integrated with the larger company; we never felt like we had a voice in decision making.

roller coaster

Some people find change exhilarating. Some people find it terrifying.

More recently, my current employer — Extreme Networks — acquired two business units that had been spun off from rival companies. The people in those business units might’ve feared the same things I feared at my old job in 2005. But things have worked out better for them.

In my Summit session, I’ll tell you what we did to make that possible. My story will focus on a work group I led, in which we planned and carried out the migration of all three technical writing teams to a new content management system (CMS).

Here’s a summary.

What makes a successful merger

As typified by our experience with the CMS work group, we’ve been pleased with the success we’ve had in blending three teams into one. The keys have been:

  • Frequent, intentional communication
  • Active, empathetic listening
  • Respecting every team member’s right to know
  • Involving all stakeholders (read, people) in decisions about tools and workflows
  • Fostering unity and open communication
  • Establishing a sense of shared purpose by defining common goals

In my Summit session, I’ll have lots more to say. There’ll also be a brief exercise to help you create a strategy for managing a successful transition of people, workflows, and tools for any change that’s pending in your organization.

I hope to see you there!

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