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Webinar - Essentials for merger and acquisition success

Watermark Search International’s interim team recently hosted a webinar with guest speaker Karen Isely, founder of Isely Associates International, where she shared the results of her ground-breaking M&A research. This research demonstrates a critical link between people’s experience during deals and whether or not deal objectives are met. The study provides much-needed data to support early investment in leadership and culture as part of the standard deal process.

Following are the key points of the webinar as well as a recording of the entire webinar.

Important findings

  • People experience predicts whether expected deal objectives will be achieved; specifically, meeting deal objectives is 23 times more likely when people have a positive experience compared to when they have a negative experience
  • Clarity and Leadership predict whether people will have a positive experience
  • Culture poses the biggest challenge in deals
  • The M&A Fundamentals of Clarity, Capability and Execution have significant associations with both people experience and deal outcomes

Implications of these findings

People experience will make or break your deal. To deliver positive people experiences to improve deal outcomes you must:

  • Invest early in Leadership and Clarity. The findings imply that you do not have to be perfect at these, but it is really important not to be horrible
  • Tackle the Culture challenge head-on, beginning with your own culture
  • Sort Capability and Execution before entering into a deal. Building capability and running a good program are essential, but not sufficient if you want to optimise investments made
  • Begin preparation earlier than you think you should

M&A Fundamentals model

  • People experience sits at the centre because this makes or breaks a deal
  • Organisation Culture makes or breaks people experience. People make their best contributions when they:
    • Know what to do, why it matters and have what they need to deliver
    • Experience mutual respect and trust
    • Feel secure, included, considered and valued
    • Have confidence in leaders
    • Are engaged, motivated and committed.
  • The M&A Fundamentals of Clarity, Capability and Execution are related to achieving both expected deal outcomes and creating a Culture that fosters positive people experience.
  • Effective M&A Leadership is the essential link:
    • Where Clarity meets Capability, deliberate M&A leaders:
      • Assess
      • Prioritise
      • Invest
      • Prepare.
    • Where Capability meets Execution, influential M&A leaders:
      • Role model
      • Influence and motivate
      • Build relationships
      • Develop people.
    • Where Execution meets Clarity, galvanising M&A leaders:
      • Sponsor
      • Decide
      • Communicate
      • Test and adapt.

Where to start as you prepare for your next deal

Start from wherever you are; and if you don’t know, take ten minutes to find out. Karen has offered this link to an online M&A Preparation Assessment aligned to her research. [Note: this assessment will be unavailable for a brief period on 4 July due to scheduled platform maintenance].

In the end, you will not go wrong starting with:

  • Clarity – Clarity predicts both deal outcome and people experience, as well as has significant association with both
  • Leadership – Leadership predicts people experience and has significant associations with both deal outcome and people experience
  • Culture – Culture is difficult to separate from Clarity and Leadership and touches everything. Even though not predictive, Culture has significant associations with both deal outcome and people experience.

You can watch the full recording of the webinar here.


​If you would like more information on our Interim Executive webinar series then please contact one of the team today