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Book Report - Five Frogs on a Log

Overall, I liked this book, the following are my notes:

7 deadly sins of implementing M&A:

  1. Obsessive list making
  2. Content-free communications
  3. Creating a planning circus
  4. Barnyard behavior
  5. Preaching vision and values
  6. Putting turtles on fence posts (execs and managers taking care of their "own"
  7. Rewarding the wrong behaviors

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • execute the transition as quickly as possible, no delays
  • Deciding to do the acquistion is easy - executing as usual is hard!
  • Rapid growth is the primary driver for M&A
  • Mergers create unstable employees - they become ripe for the competition to hire away
  • Mergers of "equal" often blow up
    • Don't try to select the best practices of each company and merge them - it never works
    • One side always dominates no matter what
  • People expect lots of changes in M&A, if you hesitate you'll lose all of the impact of those changes
    • Your very speed in making changes reduces peoples resistanc

Value Driver Analysis:

The process to move forward on 20% of the issues that drive 80% of the $ value of the deal.You must allocate fundamental tactical actions first, actions with predictable payoff and success. Concentrated resources @ DECISIVE points helps win the battle.

Create a VDA matrix - plot the tasks on the Y axis and probability of success on the x axis.

  1. Get all available information
    • What actions increase $, and what actions lower costs
    • Quanify the impact of each action
    • Decide on the probablity of success
  2. Rank each
  3. Concentrate resources against the top ranked items

Four (More) Rules of M&A

  1. No secrets
  2. No suprises
  3. No hype
  4. No empty promises


The following is an exersise designed to figure out what and how to communicate the merger messages to the different stakeholders (employees, investors, etc...)

Create a grid with each stakeholder down one the x axis. On the y axis, list all the issues. In each cell, write a 25 word company positioning statement geared for that stakeholder. In addition, create a "rude" question for each box - i.e. What job will I get, Will I be fired?

In any case, the customers MUST be the top priority - slow transitions have proven to create more difficulties w/customers.

Launching the Transition

  1. Create common understanding (Value drivers) and actions
  2. Create plans for value drivers
  3. Energize small teams to act

4 Myths of Culture Change and Integration

  • Cultural incompatibility is the biggest cause of post-deal failure
  • Culture is an intractable force
  • Cultures can be blended gradually (no such thing as a merger of equals)
  • Culture can be changed by preaching values and vision