The Merger Verger spent some time earlier this week in the office of an executive whose company had announced its sale only 15 minutes before. We had the privilege to eavesdrop on two conference calls, one hosted by the two CEOs to introduce the sale to their staffs and the other with the sales teams to go into details directly focused at them.
Both of these calls are part of Acquisition Integration SOP and they included all the usual Rah Rah stuff about how well the merged companies will perform in their new togetherness. But two interesting observations did surface – one simple, the other subtle – to which we draw readers’ attention. In this posting, we’ll look at the Subtle observation. Subtle but corrosive.
Now, our contact at the seller is a very busy guy. We’ve been in his office when he had multiple conference calls, emails and texts all actively going at once (to what effect we cannot say). But on this day – in the two hours immediately following announcement of the deal – his phone did not ring.
Silence. The breath of God. What’s up with that?
Answer: nothing. That is, no business was getting done … that kind of nothing.
If you’re a executive who’s closely involved with the mechanics of a deal or are charged with making sure the trains run on time during the period of post-announcement transition, you’d serve yourself well to remember that people think first, long and hard about themselves. Themselves; not you, not your wonderful deal. They will do little or nothing but wander mentally around that topic shell-shocked until they get answers, satisfactory ones. If they get no answers or the answers they get are lame, you will get no work or the work you get will be lame.
On the spectrum of Satisfactory versus Lame, no one gives a hot damn whether you think an explanation is satisfactory. If your audience thinks it’s lame, it’s lame. So do yourself a favor: set aside the rah-rah, strap on the boots of your audience and only then start crafting your message.
About the Art:
Top: the cover of the first English language edition (1929) of All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and considered by many to be the greatest war novel of all time. The cover design is based upon a 1917 German war bonds poster by the artist Fritz Erler. Bottom: a transitional scene from the original 1930 movie version of Remarque’s book.