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Your M&A deal and garden have more in common than you know!

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The illustration above is one of a series of trees grafted by contemporary artist Sam Van Aken, called the tree of the 40 fruits. Each tree grows over 40 different types of fruits including almonds, peach, apricot, cherry and plums. Every spring the tree’s blossoms are a mix of different sorts of red, pink, purple and white”

Some gardens grow wild, with weeds and flowers intertwining around the roots of overgrown trees. Others are designed with care and crafted at the hands of a gardener. While nature’s garden sprouts weeds, the gardener invents new plants by joining two together.

In their quest to create these vigorous new plants, gardeners separate one plant from its roots and attach it to the roots of another. This new plant will be stronger and more fruitful then either of them. If a European fruit plan were grafted onto a local Canadian tree, it would be able to survive the long, cold Canadian winters and resist the harsher environments.

I use the method of ‘grafting’ at the foreign company I work for, in Japan. By branding together different companies, I get better results in the global market. Like grafted plants, businesses must merge and grow stronger together to survive today’s competitive and complex landscapes.

What can we learn from grafting that we could use for business and leadership?

At the time of grafting, the two parts of the plants join, allowing fluids to flow easily between them. It’s the same in business. Information and communication must flow smoothly between two companies. Successful mergers need strong integration and organisational alignment, allowing people from both companies to share the same tools and information. They must be supported by a solid IT infrastructure and detailed integration plan.

Companies also need to pay attention to the balance of power. The same is true when branches are formed by grafting. If one plant is too strong, it can overwhelm the other branches and take over the tree. Therefore, a capable and skilled overseer is needed to ensure that all the branches survive, or else the project will be jeopardized, thus making grafting useless.

Merged companies should stick to the business model that they first agreed on and not slip back to the model used by the local company. The reason they joined together was to blend their strengths, enabling them to grow larger and more powerful in the global market.

After closing is Post Merger Integration

Once a M&A is completed, the next phases are therefore crucial of what is put in place during the Post Merger Integration (PMI) phase.

It requires great effort to generate effective synergies and it takes a collective relationship to achieve the original goals of the M&A project. This involves all functions and processes. Additionally, businesses need to be aware of cultural and leadership differences to avoid bottlenecks and misunderstandings.

Like grafting, the most important part comes after the two entities are merged together. A gardener must continue to care for the new plant to encourage its growth. In a merger, each business must look at the other as a constructive partner.

Now, more than ever, companies need to blend their strengths to succeed and move forward. This integration doesn’t happen by chance.

Phillipe Bouchet

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