Merging Cultures Would Be Easy…If It Wasn’t for the Cultures
Let’s face it: Merging organizations is really, really hard. There are so many issues – strategic, structural, process, financial, technical, policies, procedures – to sort out, to work out, to optimize.
And often, those are the easy parts.
In our experience with mergers – of teams, departments, divisions, and entire organizations – the cultures, no matter how vibrant, often carry the seeds of organizational disarray. Culture is an organization’s DNA, the thing that makes it what it is and that allows it to function. Culture is intangible, often invisible, but never ever insignificant. Get it right, and you can have 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or 5. Get it wrong, and you can have 1 + 1 = really?
A current example of this was the merger of Apple culture with J. C. Penney culture. It came in the form of a wunderkind from Apple, Ron Johnson, who was brought in to “Apple-ize” Penney’s. He used a powerful personality and a lot of confidence to cram that excellent but alien culture into an old company with a very powerful culture of its own. The result? He didn’t even last 2 years. Sadly, J. C. Penney might not last 2 more.
Culture is intangible, often invisible, but never ever insignificant.
Watching culture clashes was a part of what led us to develop the concept of cultural design™. You can design principles and practices into the cultural merger that takes the best of both and blends them into an effective whole – preferably something even better than either one was alone. Success isn’t just a matter of having smart, high-quality leaders, but having leaders who know that culture is designable and mergeable.
You can have a combined, solidly integrated culture. We have 10 CEU-accredited courses to help you do it, and assessments to make sure that you have no illusions, delusions, or contusions as you do. You can create a new, living culture out of the DNA of two fine organizations. You just have to remember that in the matter of cultural mergers, all undesigned efforts will be memorable, for all the wrong reasons.