Mergers & Acquisitions

When two companies become one through a merger or an acquisition, the new entity undergoes organizational “culture shock.” The results of this new entity can be a new, more powerful, more flexible, more capable organization with the best attributes of both original entities. Or it can produce a company at the other end of the spectrum, one that is a complete mismatch of goals, methods, values and management styles, often with disappointing results. The likelihood is that what will emerge will lie somewhere in between these two extremes, and the success of the merger or acquisition will hinge on the new corporate culture.

Consider some “side effects” – other possible outcomes of mergers and acquisitions which include:

–         Loss of key personnel

–         Loss of key customers

–         Workplace conflict

–         Low trust, communication and respect

–         Wasted time and effort

–         Unnecessary stress

One example of an acquisition “horror story” is General Motors’ acquisition of EDS in 1984. This marriage was handled so badly that the two “divorced” in 1996. Along the way GM created uncertainty, hostility and resistance among many of its own employees, and it managed to defeat its own purpose in acquiring EDS in the first place.

The vast majority of mergers and acquisitions come as a result of perceived alignment of financial strengths and opportunities, market positions, overlapping goals, and geography. What is rarely considered, and what was instrumental in the failed marriage of GM and EDS, is the behavioral component that our SAR Process® addresses. This behavioral component consists of, and our process specifically addresses, these elements:

–         Expectations

–         Reducing resistance to change

–         Enhancing accountability for overall results

–         Professional-grade teamwork

–         Ethics

–         Aligning organizational and individual purpose

–         Proactive response to weaknesses and threats

In short, mergers and acquisitions are much more than combined bank accounts and common offices. They are the best hope for long-term sustainability in a challenging economic environment, and as such they are highly susceptible to the fears, doubts, priorities and ambitions of the people who populate them.

If you are contemplating participating in a merger with or acquisition of another organization then don’t overlook the impact of “culture shock.” Keep in mind that one of the key questions you must ask yourself is: What are we about to do today that will interfere with what we have to do tomorrow?

We can help you find the answer to that all-important question, and our SAR Process® can provide the solution.


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Culture and College

Texas colleges and universities, like those in most states, are dealing with a significant loss of revenue because of the current economic conditions affecting the state and the nation. And, as in other states, they are looking for ways to economize and to replace the diminished legislative and philanthropic dollars on which they depend. Currently the Texas Legislature is opting for the “squeeze play,” making it incumbent on colleges and universities to create new partnerships or suffer crippling losses in enrollment and academic performance.

Colleges and universities in general share certain cultural attributes that rival those found in the management of small cities and towns. The processes they employ to deal with issues of revenue collection and apportionment can be heavily influenced by what are often obsolete methods of exercising authority and influence. Most of these processes can be broken down into “collective consideration” and “management by fiat.”

Collective consideration is important in higher education because educated people expect to be consulted on matters of institutional policy that affect them, and they expect their opinions to be given respectful attention.

But in times like these it is often necessary for institutions to act more quickly than “collective consideration” allows and to enact reforms necessary for institutional survival even if they are unpopular. These institutions often encounter resistance to new ideas that appear to be arbitrary or ill-conceived given the pool of knowledge and the traditions resident in their culture. Senior administrators who don’t want to work through the sophisticated but often outdated advice of their faculty colleagues often choose the option of “management by fiat.”

This is the root of the “invisible” cultural problem! By merely “announcing” changes, senior administrators do not provide the direction that gives people hope, they do not provide the sense of enthusiasm that taps the initiative of all members to create solutions, and they do not provide the leadership by example that sets the new behavioral expectation for all to follow.

When budget pressures force a college or university to cut back its operations, neither “collective consideration” nor “management by fiat” is entirely effective at producing the required results. When confronted with this key question, “What are you doing today that interferes with what you must do tomorrow?” many colleges and universities answer with ceasing some facet of what they already know how to do instead of implementing what they really need to learn how to do.

This is where Sagan & Associates, LLC comes in. Our SAR Process® acknowledges what the institution is already doing and doing well to achieve its purpose, and it adds to those existing skills some other skills which may be unknown to the institution – but which constitute the “third option” between “collective consideration” and “do it because I said so.”

Our role is to help you accomplish your mission: provide a quality education, maintain high levels of student, faculty and staff morale and satisfaction, and do it all with new-found resources.

Does that sound like something you would like to do but have trouble achieving? If so, let us know. We can help.

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What makes us unique?

This question inevitably arises when tough-minded, professional-grade executive talent asks us why they should pay for our services.


Here is why:

We believe that all forms of executive effort can be assessed and should be trained and “coached to” with three fundamental ideas:

The first is economic. For any professional advice to be worth what you invest, that advice must produce more benefit for the organization than the organization is paying to get it. It doesn’t matter if the client is a “for-profit” business, any form of tax-exempt business, a government agency, or a voluntary association. All of these forms of endeavor pursue strategic objectives. These objectives may be a mixture of tangible and intangible, but it is only in the level of success at attaining these objectives that performance can always be fairly evaluated. Results matter. The cost of achieving them matters.

Our background includes doctoral-level study in the field of Labor Economics, and we understand markets for labor as well as for goods and services. We also understand that certain attitudes and behaviors are worth more than others.

The second is behavioral. Organizations are made up of people, and people are the fulcrum with which the organization leverages both the operational results it achieves and the costs it incurs in achieving those results. In other words, how people work, both independently and together, produces total organizational performance. People are not machines – they come with unique assortments of life experiences that cause them to assume certain “stances” with other people under varying circumstances. There are two general grades of workplace behavior: “amateur-grade” and “professional-grade.” There is measurable economic benefit in knowing about, understanding, applying, and submitting to certain “professional-grade” workplace behaviors. We know what they are and how to train to them.

Our background includes graduate degrees in the fields of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Communications as well as extensive experience as senior level corporate executives and trainers.

The third is committed action. We understand that your results are the product of the behaviors to which you and your colleagues commit yourselves from moment to moment as you work. Most of these behaviors work well and produce both the intended operational result and a feeling of satisfaction among all concerned with its achievement. But when either one of these key “cultural” conditions decays, there is a corresponding decay in the other. Our SAR Process®reverses this decay if it exists, and it boosts both conditions if there is a need to improve performance in either one. We understand that such an improvement means that people must commit themselves to either continue what’s working or change what isn’t working, and our process produces these results under unavoidably compelling circumstances of support.

We understand committed action and how to instill it in others, and our SAR Process®does this quickly, powerfully, gently and excitingly.

“Can such a thing be done?” is another question we hear. The answer is, “Yes,” such a path to committed action does exist. We call it the SAR Process®, and it is so unusual it carries a “service mark” from the United States Patent Office. We have extensive experience providing “high impact” organizational alignment sessions for over 30 years, and our exclusive SAR Process®is the vehicle that can take you to higher levels of performance.

One more thing: The SAR Process®is not a “program.” There is no book for sale at the back of the room, no arbitrary reformatting of trivia with new and unusual spread sheets, no hammering on esoteric theories. What we introduce is practical, obvious and easily-grasped. We know that any organization’s work force can outlast any “program.” Look at how many do. The SAR Process®is just that – a process. You learn it, you apply it, you see its results, you commit to it, and it soon becomes second-nature. You pass it on by example.

Here is a quick quiz:

  1. Write down the dollar size of your annual payroll
  2. Write down 10% of that number
  3. Write down the total of the two numbers
  4. Ask yourself how much of number 2 you would be willing to invest to get number 3 within the next three years, and then write that down
  5. Now compute the percentage gain on your current payroll for ten or more years afterward to whatever strategic horizon you can see, and write down the total dollar value gain for each year
  6. Total number 5 and write it down

Here’s our deal: We’re not as expensive as number 4, and you get to keep number 6.

E-mail us your questions and contact information and we will answer you at once.

PLEASE NOTE: When you e-mail us, your name and contact information will be added to our secure data base, and that information will not be sold, traded or shared with anyone under any circumstances short of valid legal compulsion. All exchanges with potential clients will be treated as strictly confidential and will be held solely and exclusively by Sagan & Associates, LLC. No such information will be used in any way except to pursue a possible professional relationship between the addressee and Sagan & Associates, LLC.

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