In the third of our series on post-merger integration, this Executive Insights examines how a successful post-merger integration depends on a coordinated and organized effort that brings together a host of moving parts. Based on our decades of experience supporting post-merger integration programs, L.E.K. Consulting can point to the key benefits and success drivers of establishing an Integration Management Office, or IMO. The IMO is the group of individuals who guide the integration program in much the same way as a conductor guides an orchestra.
The conductor may not write the music or play any instruments, but she or he ensures that all notes are played at the right time, at the right pace, and with the right force and intent. The IMO will not be the arbitrator of every decision, nor will it be responsible for implementing the underlying activities of the integration, but it will ensure that those activities are synchronized and harmonized across the organization for the best overall outcome. Thus, how the IMO is structured and operates can be critical for the ultimate success of the program.
Ultimately, the structure of the IMO should mirror the working norms of your organization and those of the organization you’re acquiring. For example, direct involvement of senior leaders in the IMO is more important in organizations where senior leaders are responsible for most of the detailed decision-making, or if their involvement is required to ensure things get done.
On the other hand, if the culture of an organization is built on transparency and more distributed decision-making, then well-placed deputies capable of navigating cross-functional stakeholders, facilitating connectivity and ensuring communication may be appropriate. This approach has the additional benefit of freeing up the senior team to focus on the most critical strategic issues that will shape the direction of the integration and the newly combined company.
Beyond structure, it is also important to define how the IMO will interact with the workstream teams. We often see a few key themes to guide how the IMO can best set the tone and guide the activities and teams that constitute the integration program.