Chapter 5: Implementation Strategy for Agile M&A

Lead from the top

A top-to-bottom process overhaul is a huge undertaking and one which will usually encounter some resistance. As an example, let’s consider the industry-wide adoption of computerized physician order entry software (CPOE) in hospitals throughout the United States over the last decade. CPOE has been shown to drastically reduce medication errors in hospitals — which has for many years been the most serious threat facing hospitalized persons. CPOE has additionally been demonstrated to improve hospital workflow when properly implemented. Resistance to the new technology among doctors and hospital staff, however, was initially intense, occasionally escalating to the point of “physician rebellion.”

The physicians and their staff were upset for three reasons predominantly:

  1. They viewed change as fundamentally unnecessary. In their minds, the previous model worked just fine — and, at the end of the day, everyone prefers business as usual.
  2. The change was externally imposed by an absent authority. No one likes being told what to do, and it’s not difficult to imagine why resistance developed.
  3. The transition involved substantial extra work in the short term.

These three factors combined to create a perfect storm of resentment against the new process. In spite of this unusually extreme resistance, however, CPOE has now been implemented around the nation. This is largely thanks to a combination of strong administrative leadership, the encouragement of leading physicians amongst their peers, and an adoption process that aimed to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Tips for Launching an Agile M&A Project: Agile M&A Quickstart Approach

Adopting an Agile approach to deal management is no simple feat. it will require strong sponsorship from the leadership team as well as educated staff to execute the plays in an effective way. The Agile M&A process is designed to be applied in an iterative fashion, which means the team should start with a small set of plays, apply the game plan to gain a practical understanding of how the plays work, then make adjustments with the help from Agile M&A experts who can provide keen insights on taking the team to the next level. Success may not be achieved immediately, and change will likely feel cumbersome and inefficient at first, but with sustained efforts, most teams will realize significant benefits within a short period of time. The key to developing a sustainable, continuous improvement mindset is to maintain a high level of commitment to the process and to embrace change as the new way of doing business.

High-level Implementation Roadmap

In M&A, successfully managing resistance to process transition should focus on the same goals, and the process is defined largely by strong executive leadership. At the kickoff meeting, team leaders should make a case that old models are becoming so outdated that process change is not only desirable but very necessary. Leaders should outline the long-term procedural and workflow benefits they expect the Agile process model to realize, as well as the steps they will take to minimize superfluous work during the transition. Above all else, leaders should demonstrate their commitment to the Agile model by pursuing training and education in Agile themselves. This will fully position leaders as a part of the team, and furthermore sends a strong message that we are all in this together.
Additional resources for Agile M&A implementation available at