Why M&A Plays


Determine a plan for future improvement. Identify ways to improve processes and strengthen team alignment. Extract important lessons from M&A deals to improve future outcomes.

About the play

Truly developing and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement and refinement is difficult to achieve, yet vital for M&A functions to deliver reliable maximum value.

Implementing retrospectives, a fundamental Agile practice, can enable practitioners to extract important lessons from M&A deals and proactively enforce them to improve future outcomes.

Retrospectives are meetings that take place during deal milestones or after the deal closes to review what is working well and what is not, as well as to consider how to improve on the process.

The goal of retrospectives is to gauge the effectiveness of deal processes and tools and to determine a plan for future improvement. These open discussions help to identify ways to improve processes and strengthen team alignment.

Morale increases overall when team members feel their voices are heard, and team members will likely have substantive follow-through on ideas they generate themselves.



All members of a team/workstream


Easy to moderate


Homework, whiteboard/large paper


Approximately an hour and a half (including prep time)

Running the Play:


Do your homework

30 minutes pre-meeting:

To put the retrospective into play, set time aside to meet with your team (all team members from a single team should be present, and the meeting should come at the end of an iteration or a predefined project milestone/checkpoint), and send the questions you will ask ahead of time so that team members can reflect and prepare their responses.

Questions should include:

  • “What worked really well for this deal?”
  • “What lessons have we learned that we can apply to the next deal?”
  • “What did not work this time that we should avoid doing on the next deal?”

Open the Meeting with an Emphasis on Openness

5 minutes: Beginning the meeting with an emphasis on openness and positivity is key; there has to be a desire to be better, listen to all team members, not just senior members, and not focus solely on positives and/or negatives.


Focus on Workflow and Team Dynamics

20 minutes: Focus conversation on issues that affect work flow and team dynamics.


Analyze Effectiveness

15 minutes: Analyze the effectiveness of any plays fielded and brainstorm potential adjustments.


Look Closely at the North Star Strategic Goals

15 minutes: Discuss how successful the team has been in aligning lower level work with the overarching strategic goal of the initiative.


Additional Items

10 minutes: Review any other pertinent items affecting the team’s effectiveness and processes.


Incorporate Lessons Learned

The timing of this step will vary based on how the retrospective is applied and who is responsible for follow-up.