KingChapman Blog

Alignment: The Never-Ending Leadership Challenge in M&A Integration

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Dec 12, 2017 4:33:44 PM

Recently, I was picking up my car after its routine maintenance, including tire alignment. We all know the consequences of poorly aligned tires on a car: tires wear out too fast, the car will have the tendency to pull to the right or left, making driving more tiring, etc.

As I got into my car, I had an interesting insight. Once my car got fully aligned, the moment the car touched back on the ground, tire alignment automatically starts to go out. When I left the dealership, I paid more attention to the bumps in the road, potholes, and other street issues that were going to impact the tires’ alignment.

This analogy is a good one for what leaders and their teams face in business, and particularly in any M&A integration process. Creating alignment with a new leadership team, post merger or acquisition, is an absolute must for the M&A initiative to generate the value expected. Just like my tires, however, generating alignment is not only a “first thing to do” phenomenon, it is an ongoing leadership challenge. It must be continually created, generated, tended to, and fostered because alignment is an element that is always on its way out. After all, all of us in business recognize that, like the streets we drive on, market conditions are never static, and are never promoting more alignment. As I said, alignment is always on its way out.

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Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions

The 'Right Person, Right Job' Process in Post-Acquisition Integration

Posted by Bob Chapman on Nov 28, 2017 11:33:02 AM

A critical element of success in post-acquisition integration is identifying the right jobs to drive performance and then selecting the right people for those jobs. Selecting people for key positions in the new organization is among the most critical steps in the integration process. These choices are key to determining if the acquisition is accretive in value. It also provides the foundation for future success of the business and adopting a powerful organizational culture. At KingChapman, we think about how leaders can succeed in dealing with the Conundrum of People in M&A. In over thirty years of consulting in acquisitions, we find that getting the right person in the right job is critical to future success. It provides an excellent opportunity for leadership in bringing two or more organizations together. Placing the right people in the right jobs is also crucial communication to people in all organizations regarding their leader’s commitments and values.

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Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions

5 Ways to Destroy Value in Acquisitions

Posted by Bob Chapman on Nov 20, 2017 4:10:01 PM

 
The number and size of corporate mergers and acquisitions continues to boom. The business press carries the stories of how these potential transactions could reshape markets and add value to the acquiring firm. Regardless of the enthusiasm and hype, the facts are that many of these acquisitions will not meet stated expectations, and in fact will destroy value. Further, some of these deals can be disastrous for the business. The risk is that massive shareholder destruction will occur as businesses falter; customers become disgusted and employees are dislocated. It is interesting to note that often when transactions are announced, shareholder price and value for the seller increases, while the opposite happens for the acquirers. Investors are aware of the risks of value destruction for the acquiring firm.

Creating value is not mysterious and doesn't require the proverbial “rocket scientist” to figure out. The actions needed to create value rather than destroying value are straightforward. Yet, for a variety of reasons management teams execute these actions poorly or ignore them all together. Why? First the obvious, virtually all of the reasons for the value destruction involve people. In the passion and pressure of getting a deal done, managers forget about their people. The arrogant assumption is that people will be excited about the transaction and will “fall in line”. Often those assumptions are wrong. We call this the Conundrum of People in M&A.

This conundrum of people is where many acquisitions go off the rails. This includes dynamics during the negotiations as well as execution post-acquisition. Let’s look further at the causes:

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Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions

Transformation Demands Developing Leadership Accountability

Posted by Bob Chapman on Oct 24, 2017 1:35:15 PM

 
Accountability, leadership and transformation are inexorably linked. Accountability is an acute and overt manifestation of leadership. Leadership involves accepting and acting on the accountabilities of the position. Transformation will not occur without leadership. One of the first aspects of a business that needs to be transformed is accountability. Among the strongest evidence that a business is transforming is that the executives, managers and employees have a new relationship to accountability, and this new relationship to accountability is manifested in the performance of the business, relationships with stakeholders, and service provided to customers.

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Topics: Leadership Accountability

Why the Launch is Critical in Launching Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Oct 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM



Breakthrough Projects are designed to achieve breakthroughs or a step level change in performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. Launching breakthrough projects are a proven method for achieving breakthroughs, and are an essential element in organizational transformation. These projects interrupt the existing mindset and processes in order to produce breakthroughs.

While there are many elements which contribute to success of breakthrough projects, the most important is the launch. The launch involves setting up the team to be successful, and then starting it off in an empowering manner. Conversely, when teams that are operating falter, the predictable cause is some matter that was not addressed during set-up and launch.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Leadership Lessons Learned from Hurricane Harvey

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Sep 26, 2017 2:46:55 PM

“I am here to help you. What do you need?”, offered Becca.

True leadership is shown in the spontaneous actions of people to their circumstances. When people are inspired to make a difference, they become leaders and inspire others to take extraordinary actions. In this case, it was a generous woman reaching out to support families who could never repay the gifts that they were given. Further, the leaders in this case were inspirational and were never acknowledged for their contribution. Lastly, the evidence of inspired leadership was the amazing response of other people and organizations joining in to help. There were some important leadership lessons learned from the tragedy wrought by Hurrican Harvey.

This past Saturday evening, I had the chance to join some friends over dinner. All of the dinner guests were very fortunate in that none of us suffered any losses from Hurricane Harvey, which dumped up to 50” of rain on the Houston area in less than a week, producing unbelievable flooding all around our great city. But one person in our party – Becca – shared an amazing story about a neighborhood not far from her home that didn’t escape the flooding.

I want to repeat her story, because I found it so inspiring as I realized that her experience demonstrates the kind of true leadership that my partners and I are always attempting to foster with our clients.

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Topics: Strategic Execution

Breakthroughs in Business Development of Professional Service Firms

Posted by Larry Hoelscher on Sep 19, 2017 11:33:13 AM

 
Professional service firms (PSF) are an extremely important sector in western economies due to the unique contribution made to client’s businesses. Lees, Aquilla and Klyhn write:

Whether the influence comes through strategic advice, legal opinion, transaction origination and support, tax minimization, or an audit opinion, every business we know is reliant, in some form, on the opinion of a professional service firm. In addition, and at least as important given the move away from self-regulation, there is the critical regulatory role of the accountants and lawyers tasked with ensuring the probity of the world’s financial markets. All of which makes the task of ensuring that each of the firms is a role model of its profession’s expertise, values and ethics absolutely key.

The leadership of PSF’s comes from the managing partner (MP). Most MP’s are professionals whose career progression was marked with technical excellence and expertise. Most have had little background or training in leadership and management of large, complex organizations. Lees, et.al describe this situation:

And yet, every managing partner we know admitted that they took on the role without any real understanding of what the role entailed and without being sure if they had the capabilities to do it effectively. They also described how the typical high need for achievement culture within professional service firms, with its intolerance of perceived failure, made it almost impossible for them to ask for help when they needed it and for their colleagues to offer it.

This lack of preparation is clearly present in rapid growth for a part of a practice which has been in decline for several years. Creating breakthroughs as part of executing a growth strategy is a foreign concept for most PSF partners. It was just such a setting into which KingChapman was hired.

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Breakdowns Are Roads To Organizational Breakthroughs

Posted by Bob Chapman on Sep 12, 2017 8:03:00 AM

Businesses exist to create value. Sustaining value creation usually involves substantial growth. Substantial growth is easy when the markets in which the business compete are growing, as “rising waters lift all boats”. Most businesses, however, cannot count on “rising waters” to deliver growth. Instead, they require creativity, leadership, innovation and dogged determination. In addition, they often require breakthroughs and changing organizational context.

At KingChapman, we have refined application of Breakthrough Technology over the past three decades. This approach, when deployed by leaders, has reliably produced organizational breakthroughs and improved performance.

Integral to achieving breakthroughs is effective use of breakdowns. The Breakdown Methodology is based on an invented conversation to explore what are perceived to be interruptions to desired performance and paths. These conversations identify dynamics and factors which were previously unnoticed, and hold the key to breakthroughs.

Let's discuss the importance of breakdowns, as well as the breakdown methodology.

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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Creating Organizational Transformation With Breakthrough Projects

Posted by Bob Chapman on Aug 24, 2017 9:12:00 AM



Sustainable value creation in a business requires growth. Growth requires change. Substantial, sustainable growth requires transformative change. That’s well known. What’s not so well know is how to achieve transformative changes. That is the hard part, which requires leadership and breakthroughs. KingChapman has long assisted leaders design and execute breakthroughs in their organizations.

An obvious first question is what is a breakthrough? A breakthrough is step level change in an organizations level of performance. A breakthrough leads to results that otherwise were not going to happen. A breakthrough requires a fundamental change, rather than simply working harder. Further, the change introduced to produce the result will also make this new level of performance sustainable over time. This extraordinary result is achieved through intentional actions in the business, including transforming the organization’s orientation to be more externally focused.

KingChapman has found the best approach to achieving breakthrough results is through Breakthrough Projects. We have used Breakthrough Projects in many different industries around the globe. The consistent theme in Breakthrough Projects is:

  • Strong leadership from managers
  • Commitment to achieving results beyond the currently level of knowledge and practice
  • Teams that are empowered to find ways to achieve these breakthroughs
  • Commitment to sustain the breakthroughs and introduce into ongoing operations in performance beyond what is currently being produced
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Topics: Leading Breakthroughs

Six Emerging Priorities For Leading Through Complexity

Posted by Dr. Robert Hausmann on Jul 26, 2017 6:12:00 AM

Can you identify the drivers of complexity in your organization? Are you able to diagnose the level of uncertainty in your environment? Can you assess a given situation’s complexity and use a framework for choosing an appropriate course of action?

The ever-increasing complexity facing organizations demands that leaders improve performance outcomes for their organizations. This is especially true for those working in unforgiving social, political and regulatory environments, which are rich with complexity and where the scale of consequences can be catastrophic. In addition, cognitive biases interfere with accurate perception of a circumstance and prevent the person from attending to additional incoming data. Further, it is very hard for the person whose perceptions and judgements are compromised to see it until long after the fact. 

Leading through complexity requires leaders to possess impeccable awareness of their behavior and of how others interpret it. As leaders, we need to create actions that allow our people to quickly diagnose their level of complexity and respond accordingly. The following six principles are emerging as priorities for leading in a complex world.  

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