A cardinal rule in M&A is to avoid destroying value, which is why you need to take the time to create your processes and plan to deal with the possibility of things going wrong. I’ve observed that the most frequent problems are related to people – how they react to changes or change, how they resist it and what they do if things don’t go as planned.

We assist our clients to set up an effective system that allows them to recognize potential issues early and quickly respond. This can be achieved by holding an annual IMO meeting and working streams to monitor the progress of the process and escalate issues and risks to the SteerCo.

Once the procedure for addressing issues is established, it’s crucial to concentrate on implementation. It’s important to make sure that the team members know what is expected of them and how they’ll be evaluated and when. It also includes clearly defining accountability (i.e. ownership of the final outcome) and decision-making authority for the whole integrated business.

It is crucial that the CEO and other senior managers are able spend at least 90 percent of their time focusing on core matters and not be distracted by integration tasks. A good way to do this is to choose an experienced leader to head the Decision Management Office (IMO) which will help triage the decisions and oversee the work streams. This could be a person from the acquisition company, or it can be an emerging star within the newly merged business that has the backing of their boss to fulfill this commitment.