The world is changing faster than ever. When it comes to significant acquisitions, which typically take years to finish, sticking to one plan will not deliver the best results. From what we've seen, adaptability and flexibility drive better M&A. Larger companies have started adopting Agile in their process. In this article, we will be talking about evolving to Agile M&A at scale with the help of Ashley Rice, Sr. Consultant HR M&A at Cisco, and Kimberly Baird, Corporate Development Integration Lead at Cisco.
"The understanding of culture is continuously evolving, so the entire process is evolving. So why wouldn't your plans also evolve as you go forward?" - Kimberly Baird
The word Agile gets thrown out a lot, but it's one of Cisco's core principles. It's about being iterative on all the aspects of your process to realize value from your investment. Frequently setting short-term goals will allow you to continuously step back and re-evaluate your approach if you are still doing the right thing or not.
When it comes to scaling your process, it's about the people. Surround yourself with people who are consistently approaching deals and learning from them. Set a culture of learning in which people will feel supported every time. Through rigorous practice, you will be able to create an environment that fosters Agile practices.
Not overwhelming the target company is one of the biggest challenges in the process. When your team is at 100 people, all trying to do due diligence, it can be chaotic. The best way to avoid this issue is to stick to your north star. Filter what matters and remove unnecessary materials. Focus on the "must-haves" rather than the "want-to-haves". You can also split teams into functions and ask them the top five things they have to do to achieve their synergy.
No one likes change. The only way you can drive change in an organization is to understand what matters most to them, especially the organization's leaders. You need to talk to them and help them understand how they can lead their team through change. Having these kinds of conversations will accelerate what you are trying to achieve.
"Culture is not a one-time snapshot in the world of M&A" - Ashley Rice
Promoting change inside your organization can also be a challenge. But to slowly move towards this new Agile way of working, you need to set the tone for building a more transparent way of working. People need to understand the importance of information transfer.
Tools also help a lot in improving your processes. They need to promote quick sharing of information, iterative, accessible, transparent, and flexible. Being Agile is a culture, and everyone needs to buy into it.