Why M&A Plays

Setting Up Your Steering Committee

"Learn how to set up bulletproof Guidance, Recommendations, and Leadership to assure successful outcomes from the acquisition. Tailored your specific integration."
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About the play

I think it is time to demystify the purpose of a Steering Committee.

In many shapes and forms, a Steering Committee performs the duty of providing guidance, recommendations, and leadership to drive successful outcomes from the acquisition.

I say this because there are always groups within any acquirer who want an acquisition to be successful. The “group” can be two people or more.

A Steering Committee does not have to feel or look like a formal board. As a matter of fact, the less it has the formality of a board, the more fluid and flexible it can operate within Agile practices.

Setting up a Steering Committee (“SteerCo”) will involve several steps for preparation. At the outset, there is a planning effort to establish an operating model tailored to your current integration. Second, you will want to list nominees. And last but not least is the cadence of how often to convene. 


Items listed in the materials section consist of easy logistical items to acquire. You will find that having this information ahead of time will provide efficiency gains when running the play.

For example, already having access to see calendar availability to key nominees will allow you to see which executives have the bandwidth to be part of the SteerCo.


Head of Integrations, Acquisition Executive Sponsor, Acquisition Market Sponsor, Corporate Development Lead




Buy plan, Team member list, DACI matrix template, SteerCo operating model template, access to see calendar availability.


3 hours

Running the Play:


Define your Operating Model

Another myth I would like to break is how complex a Governance Structure needs to be.

All too often, I have seen integration teams not want to set up a SteerCo for the fear of defining how the group would operate and what it would govern.

Granted, I have read 30+ page decks going into the minutiae of how to operate. But I also know that most small to mid-sized acquisitions do not require that much detail. Certainly, a good governance structure will be thorough and flexible.

To the point of thoroughness, here are several must-have sections of your governance structure in no order specifically:

Mandatory sections of your Governance Structure

Table 1-Mandatory sections of your Governance Structure

When it comes to an operating model, there is not a one-size-fits-all stamp. It is best to look at past SteerCo’s to find what will work well within your current integration.

There are times when I found that a 5-page document works just as well for a $250 Mn acquisition as for a $5 Bn acquisition. Yet the content in each was tuned to the needs of the integration, the players, and the stakeholders.


Draft Your Nominees

Finding and getting an agreement with the SteerCo nominees may be the hardest part of this play for you. It is not difficult because of the complexity but rather the politics that could be involved when socializing the list.

Here is some advice on how best to avoid lengthy arguments about why you selected certain names:

  • Create a transparent and safe environment for the conversation about the nominees; no sense in holding one-off chats to garner support since that just leads to back-channel distrust
  • Everyone needs to be open to feedback and, if needed, apply Chatham House Rules for confidentiality
  • Flush out where there are political motives, and stop it
  • Seek out executives who have the bandwidth; do some research by accessing their available calendars or EAs ahead of time
  • Take note of the personality characteristics of each nominee 
  • Determine which personalities can complement your goals for achieving a fast and agile method for this integration
  • Write down the characteristics of successful committee members since this will be key to assessing whether nominees make the mark.

Expect your nominee list to go through at least one revision. If you did your homework well then the changes will not be major. Have an open mind and listen. Maybe you will learn something new that makes a nominee better or worse from your initial assessment.

Involved in the confirmation effort of your nominations should be the Acquisition Executive Sponsor, the Acquisition Market Sponsor, and your Corporate Development Lead.


Set the Cadence on SteerCo Meetings

Armed with the confirmed list of SteerCo members, you can begin the effort to plan the recurring meetings. This is a simple effort to look through calendars to find what day and time works for everyone.

Please make sure that you find a time when mandatory SteerCo attendance cannot be questioned. It is very important you have the highest attendance possible.

In terms of timing, the decision to make it weekly or monthly can be challenging. I found that more flexibility in this selection seems to work for most.

At the outset, I make SteerCo meetings every other week for two months. This gives you and the SteerCo plenty of time to cement how you operate as a team while keeping the frequency of conversations, topics, and decisions moving forward in the early days. Then around the three-month mark, I switch the SteerCo cadence to monthly.