Blending cultures for excellence

In a merger/acquisition situation, how do you identify the cultures, what is good and bad about them, and then lever the best of both for something even better when combined?

Two distinct non profit hospitals coming together.   One larger than the other.  A friendly integration.

How does one identify the cultural/identity aspects that are important to each, and beyond that which contribute to excellence.  Then how do you plan for/lever creating a new joint culture that supports and enhances both?


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Participant comments on Blending cultures for excellence

  1. In our conversations with partner organizations we try to explicit the cooperative work to be done. Not only the why and what, but also the how.

    We use the BART model (Green & Molenkamp, 2005) to explicit the boundary, authority, role and task of our cooperative work.

    We also use a model with five conditions for an optimal cooperative relationship (Kaats & Opheij, 2012) for identifying where we meet and where we don’t:
    – Do we have a shared ambition?
    – Do we do justice to each other interests?
    – Do we work together in a constructive way?
    – Do we organize professionally in line with our ambition?
    – Is it a meaningful process?

    If you’re interested I can send you the first article as that’s in English. The second article unfortunately is in only Dutch.

    1. Hey David:
      Hopefully you are checking this! I would love to check out the BART model you referenced.

  2. Creating a new joint culture means showing respect for the uniqueness of each organization. It’s all about creating a shared mission and common values. It’s about being willing to learn best practices from one another and appreciating all of the caregivers.
    Health systems need to be more than just a common name and logo. They need to really know and show the value of the integration – caregivers, patients and the community need to be at center of these plans and communications.
    Some keys to success are:
    1.) Put together a good team to handle the transaction.
    2.) Think big but plan to the smallest details. Senior leaders should keep an eye on the big picture yet remain flexible to ensure critical details are discussed.
    3.) Get aligned by discussing the two cultures, strategic priorities, leadership styles, workforce policies.
    4.) Communicate a compelling vision and share the goals for the short and long-term.

  3. Hi ChalChisa,

    75% of all M&A activities fail (ie destroy value for acquiring company). This seems like a fairly large number but it’s true. I have been in six acquisitions. Two from the wrong side and 4 from the right side. My take is as follows

    1) Don’t be in a rush to absorb the acquired company in yours…you get the Culture Change management totally wrong. Be slow and deliberate in integration
    2) Treat the acquired company as a hero. I am assuming this is not a distressed asset. The fact that they are acquired is a acknowledgement that these Guys have something to offer
    3) Set up a team to identify low hanging fruits….and set rewards and recognition inclined to synergistic collaboration.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Setting up a good team is the most important aspect. Take 3-4 people from each hospital and get 2 people from outside. Put them on a mission team. Do a team building strong exercise with them. Let them identify the best of each cultures. and then stitch together the best of each – to make a new one.

    When implementing, keep 30% people from this group to champion the cause.

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