I wrote this message more than 15 years ago when I was working for a major Multinational Company in the Electronic Business.This company was facing a major restructuring after a merger and as Operation Director at that time I was fighting to protect people from the desaster of a severe restructuring.
Today in 2009 all this seems to be so far, but as Transition Manager I am now working to help Companies to face this difficults period and help them to be prepared for when the better days will come.
“Kill The Skills”
Alliances, acquisitions, mergers often look like real battlefields where employees are expressing openly or secretly their new stress, distraction and confusion.
Although top managers appears on TV or in Magazines with “AquaFresh” smiles, presenting how they were so clever to imagine the new “partnership” with brand new strategies leading to maximum growth and top profitability for happy shareholders, situation inside the new corporation rarely looks so easy.
As stock exchange value goes up ,delighted by this new generation of head-cutters, situation in the field often looks more like the Bronx in New York.
Through the last 6 years, the total value of mergers in the world was multiplied by six, reaching 2300 billion dollars in 98 (“Au secours, mon Entreprise fusionne!”-“L’Express”-August 26Th, 1999).
Following a recent A.T Kearney study made on a hundred companies that recently faced a merger between 1993 and 1996, 58% of them have partially or totally killed the existing values (human and organizational assets) of one of the 2 companies, without any capitalisation.
Two third of them have openly admitted to have missed their strategic objectives.
Frequently, the expected savings that have justified dramatic rationalization decisions never happened or were achieved on the surface after massive restructuring based on simple considerations like headcount or facilities numbers, creating chaos in the organisation, generating later on considerable indirect costs . General root causes for significant secondary cost increase after restructuring can be:
• -Best elements are leaving rapidly, creating confusion between survivals.
• -Within management, best “Politicians”, after intense lobbying , carefully keep for themselves and friends key positions, leaving the others in an unbearable waiting mood.
• -Reorganization remains at “reconstruction” stage at inferior levels, creating a durable mess still alive 2 or 3 years later .
• -Senior people ,sacked for the privilege of being “amortised “, disappear with experiences and know-how, leaving behind them an empty shell.
• -Absence of care to create a new culture in the “just born” corporation, helping to keep the existence of hostile clans.
• – Desynchronisation of existing synergies between R&D, Manufacturing , Marketing…
• -People, at shopfloor level wandering about the rumours, progressively looses their productivity.
So what? Losing your job after a merger or an acquisition, is it good or bad news?
Fighting to keep your position within your current company, with unclear borders in your role, with degraded atmosphere, is not necessarily the best option.
Think twice before taking any decision!
But if you want to try to survive in the new environnement, and continue to surf in this new climate, you can probably find your inspiration in “The new science of Disorder” by Ian Stewart , in which you will learn faster than anywhere else how to face the wonderful random and uncertainty of chaos……or you can work with us, as they are so many other ways than disorder to keep those skills alive after the storm.
Emmanuel de Ryckel