One of the most challenging changes an enterprise can face is a merger or acquisition in which different cultures must work together as an integrated entity. This was the situation faced by a longtime client of Executive Synergies. A new CEO and officer of an acquisition/merger independent company sought our assistance in helping the group function more effectively as a single unit.

The situation was uniquely challenging in that the new organization had been formed by the merger of agriculture, chemical and herbicide businesses. And it was exacerbated by the fact that executives now having to form a single management team came from headquarters from three different countries with fairly dissimilar work styles and cultures. As an outgrowth of our working with the new team, we developed a highly customized retreat for these executives representing all three formerly independent companies, including senior executives from five countries.

We held a blend of strategic planning and working sessions, interspersed casual, informal activities with executives and their guests. In this situation, the social interactions served to highlight and clarify more quickly than might otherwise have occurred, the national/cultural differences involved. During the working sessions, the differences in corporate cultures became clear. Having seen, and identified it, the team was better able to understand their implications for corporate behavior and performance. This enabled them to document desired team behaviors and processes that would help them operate effectively across cultures, countries and industries.

A few months after the retreat a senior executive abruptly resigned. The CEO was about to leave the meeting to fly home and deal with the crisis, but was reminded by his fellow officers during a telephone call of their retreat commitment to function as a cohesive team. He agreed to stay the course and empower his executive committee to act in concert with their mutually agreed to strategic goals. Their new operating principles were tested and proved successful in developing an effective company culture.