Integrating a Startup

  • September 28, 2011
  • Scott

I’m sure several BPM firms could comment on this article by Jacob Ukelson, as so many of them have been acquired over the last few years!  Jacob gives “10” rules for doing this successfully, and they’re all good.  In particular:

Rule 5 – Pretend you are a doctor and have taken the Hippocratic oath – first do no harm. Don’t change anything until you have learned the landscape of the new company. I know successful US executives have a penchant for action – but this is a case where early action can be disastrous. Understand that it will probably take a year until the company is more or less integrated. Maybe I should have put this rule first.

Companies that are acquisitive tend to have a very well-oiled acquisition process.  But companies that don’t do a lot of acquisitions likely put together a team on the spot to go make it happen.  I observed the Lombardi acquisition from the outside, but even so it was obvious that IBM has done a few acquisitions before – the terminology, the process, the time taken, were all indicative of years of practice.  When a company has jargon like “Bluewashing” you know they’ve integrated a few companies.  In the particular case of Lombardi, you have to give IBM credit for giving expression and voice to the “Lombardi” DNA they  acquired, and not just stamping it out with IBM-ness.


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  • Scott,
      I agree, IBM has their acquisition integration process down pat. It wasn’t always that way – it took a lot of learning and failed acquisitions to get there.
      In my experience, most acquiring companies aren’t as good as IBM and both the acquirer and acquiree (?) pay dearly for it.
             Jacob Ukelson

    • Jacob-
      Agreed, and just because IBM has a process for this, doesn’t mean that everyone does 😉  It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t any fall-out from even a good acquirer.  We’re all humans, after all, and even when something works well in aggregate, the people left out in the cold aren’t going to be comforted by the statistics. 
      Thought you gave some good advice –