The deal has been completed. The companies are in the process of being merged. The target audience no longer consists of the key actors in the M&A process. The target audience is the merged entity, the operating companies:
Executive management. High interest in overall success. Informed on regular basis about the status of post-merger integration. John should reach out to them.
HR supports and advises executive management. High interest in overall success. Working closely with the PMI-team. John should reach out to them.
VP-level and higher. High interest in overall success. They and their teams are directely involved in, and impacted by, post-merger integration. John should reach out to them.
Yes, they played their part. No, they are not involved in post-merger integration. However, they are well-connected to the three groups cited above. They know where cross-border collaboration must succeed. And, if it is a global corporation, they’re continually looking for new opportunities. They should know about John and his work. John should reach out to them.
John is still unfamiliar with PE firms. He is not sure who to reach out to?
Similar to corporates, PE firms who are aggressively pursuing a cross-border Buy & Build strategy should be interested in any service-provider who can help them address country-cultural differences. Both in the deal-making phase and in the post-merger integration phase.
John suspects that there might be two types of groups within PE firms. The first seeks out investments. Those are the deal-makers. The second group manages the combined operating companies. Those who job it is to protect the investments, meaning make sure that post-merger integration succeeds.
John needs to establish contacts in the PE world as soon as possible so as to understand their structure, the personalities involved, the nature of their work, and most importantly, in order to explore if and how John can be helpful to their efforts.
This is the term used for companies, large and small, regional and international. These are companies who are constantly on the look-out for acquisitions or who might be divesting themselves of a division. These corporates are active in M&A. There are two target audiences here:
They should know about John and his services. John should get on their radar screens. “Oh yeah, there’s that guy Magee out there. An expert. Let’s give him a call.”
Same as Business Development, but for an additional reason. If it is a large corporate operating globally, senior-level HR should know about understand-culture.com and how it can be helpful to existing cross-border teams.
These folks advise corporates, large, middle and small. As service-providers. They suggest acquisition targets. Their focus, however, is guiding corporates through the M&A process.
If an M&A advisor has experience with cross-border deals, they are acutely aware of the influence of cultural differences on the M&A process. And since they remain in contact with their clients after deal closure, they know if and when integration goes well.
In fact, it is not uncommon for corporates to inquire, even to expect, M&A advisors to assist with post-merger integration. A task for which the advisors are unprepared, for which they will never develop in-house expertise.
The highest-level folks within M&A advisory firms should be very interested in cultural support. For three reasons. First, in order to win advisory mandates. “We have an expert. We got you covered on culture.” Second, to assist during the deal-making phase. “John, make sure nothing goes wrong due to cultural misunderstanding.”
Third, to assist with post-merger integration. “John, identify during due diligence where cross-border collaboration must succeed when the companies are combined. And then get involved. Not only for the benefit of our clients, but also in order to protect our reputation. We want to be associated with cross-border combinations that succeed not fail.”
John should systematically make himself known in the M&A Advisory community.
Re: strategy consultants at the highest level we’re talking about McKinsey, BCG, Roland Berger et alia. But also about EY, KPMG, PwC, and Deloitte, who for years have been offering services in the areas of M&A and PMI.
John has checked out their services time and again over the last decade. They do not address country-cultural differences. There are reasons for this. Don’t address
Should John reach out to these entities and explore possible collaboration? If so, what would John have of value to offer them, and what you they have to offer John?
First, they would have to change their approach and begin addressing culture. Very unlikely. Second, if they did, John would offer UC – understand-culture.com – as a knowledge base and tool.
John is not inclined to reach out to these entities. Wasted time and effort. More importantly, they could see the opportunity and jump in, copying my approach. Why wake sleeping dogs?
Colleagues in different countries are thrown together and told: “You all speak English. You’re good at what you do. And you’re all open-minded, self-critical global citizens. Right? Ok, then get to work. Integrate. Collaborate. Produce results.”
Yet, they are given no assistance. Simply thrown together. As if cultural differences didn’t exist. This is unfair and unjust to all of those colleagues. And it’s bad for business !
The optimal solution has three pieces:
Get access to answers to three key questions: Where do we differ in how we think, therefore in how we work? What influence do these differences have on our collaboration? How can we get the differences to work for, not against, us?
Answers to those three questions about fundamental topics: communication, decision making, leadership, processes, product philosophy, etc. And about key countries. Call them economies or markets. Beginning with the largest and the fourth-largest in the world. USA and Germany. Understand
A space for colleagues to deepen their understanding via discussions among themselves. This can be housed on the company’s intranet, so that colleagues feel comfortable exchanging ideas openly.
It can, and already is, housed on UC. With the added advantage that colleagues from different companies, working in different sectors, with expertise in different disciplines, can help each other via Q&A. Discuss (coding not completed)
Exercizes to help them apply what they have learned and discussed to their actual cross-border collaboration. To get concrete about how better to work together. Exercizes provide workshop-like character.
Like Discuss, companies can house Apply on their corporate intranet. I can supply them with those exercizes. Perhaps more effective, and perhaps wanted by companies, is housing the exercizes on UC. This is already the case. Apply (coding not completed)
How John can help
John can help in three ways. First, access to his intercultural content. Second, personal assistance in the Germany-USA space with his expertise. As a specialist. Third, personal assistance in the global space, non-culture specific, with his method expertise. As a generalist.
First, intercultural content. Called UC, undestand-culture.com is ready now. It’s open for business. Everything is in place. It’s a stand-alone business model. And it’s scalable:
All of the content on UC is the product of John’s research method. The method can be applied to additional countries and topics. To demonstrate this, as soon as John is in a position re: cashflow he will create research teams and task them with producing content: one key topic, three countries.
Scale? There is an almost limitless supply of graduate students and Ph.D. candidates who will be thrilled to do this kind of work and earn 20-25 € per hour. John knows from experience. He engaged many of them in the early 2000s in order to create his current content.
John delivers his content via the web. And that means scale. Training, consulting, facilitating is not scale. It’s body-leasing. Besides, post-Covid there is very little classroom-training taking place.
Websites. Years ago it required paying coders. Today do-it-yourself has become the norm. John has done the entire site himself with the exception of the customized registration coding. For those who are curious the key pieces are: WordPress, GeneratePress, Stripe, and Quaderno. John’s coder is CodeShack in Derby, UK.
John prefers the term awareness-building vs. marketing. Why? This topic is complex. Most people are not aware of cultural differences, much less of their influence on cross-border teams. Even the most sophisticated and successful people are not aware.
Which means that John’s job is not so much to sell or to market to people and to companies, but instead to: establish contact, inform and educate, draw into a conversation, give key decision makers gratis-access so as to see for themselves, then persuade why UC is helpful to their organization.
And how will John scale awareness-building? Via email marketing. See ActiveCampaign. “Wait, John, you’re gonna reach out to companies operating globally, to high-level people within them, and address this complex topic … via email marketing?”
Yes. And here’s why: It can be effective if done right. I have begun the learning process. It is affordable. Currently ca. $175 per month sending emails out to max. 10k people. Then ca. $425 per month to send to max. 25k people.
And it is possible to identify and track those email recipients who are opening the emails and clicking on the links. In other words, to identify possible leads. John then sends them customized emails and/or contacts them directly.
Students can be hired to add email addresses to the master list. Identify a target company. Go into LinkedIn Sales Navigator and grab firstname and lastname. Enter them into the master list within ActiveCampaign.
Second, as a specialist in the Germany-USA context. This is John’s sweet spot. No one on the planet is better. He brings in the full force of his personality, charisma, knowledge, experience, and methodology. It would be John and UC as tool and platform.
John is currently in touch with two German firms who may have a need soon. A mid-sized company with 8k employees. Acquired a university spin-off in California. A DAX30 company possibly acquiring small start-up in the upper Midwest. Sweet spot.
Third, as a generalist applying his expertise based on his 25+ year deep-dive in the Germany-USA space. A moderator, facilitator, coach. Helping newly formed cross-border teams to define how best to collaborate.
The scenario here is either companies involved in the M&A process and/or companies who have been combined and post-merger integration requests John to help with addressing cultural differences.
John realizes that, especially during this early stage, it will be necessary for him to help personally any and all companies requesting. First, in order to jumpstart cashflow. Second, to test out the strengths and weaknesses of UC. Third, to better identify the needs of the target audiences described above.
However, John is convinced that he can make a greater impact, do more good, by spreading his message to as wide an audience as possible. And that is via the web. Not only, not exclusively, but primarily so. John is just one person. And not a particularly young one. Yes, he can develop people. Yes, he can instruct in his methods of facilitating in cross-border teams. But that would be a race against the clock.
How John prefers to help
Again, there are three pieces to the optimal approach to addressing cultural differences: Understand – Discuss – Apply.
One of John’s key business principles is to never offer what the customer can do themselves. Discuss is of critical importance. But, customers don’t need John Magee, or anyone else for that. They can do it themselves. DIY. By setting up discussion forums on their corporate intranet.
However, as stated above, there are significant advantages – for both members and companies – to housing Discuss on UC. Members benefit from a very global and diverse community. Companies avoid the internal expenses and bureaucracy of engaging their IT-department.
And there are significant advantages to UC: closer, stronger, more intimate relationship with members; monitoring of topic trends; marketing via social sharing functionality.
These arguments are true also for Apply. John can supply customers with exercises: surveys, mini-case studies, stories, etc. And perhaps he will. Once you have command of the content it is easy to develop the exercises.
But John can also house Apply on UC. In fact, he already has.
John believes strongly in focus. “Don’t offer anything which the customer can do themselves. Focus on what you do best, and what hopefully no one else can do as well as you, certainly not the customer.”
It could turn out that, a.) members don’t use or care about Discuss and/or Apply, or b.) housing Discuss and Apply on UC is not in the best interest of UC. In either case, UC would recommend to companies that they house them on their corporate intranets. UC’s core value is understand, providing intercultural content: key countries, key topics, key languages.
John is attempting, at an advanced age, to build a company. Small. Hyper-focused. Doing what no one on the planet has yet to do: To help colleagues at the working level, who are collaborating in and across borders, to understand the influence of cultural differences on their work, so that they can succeed. And placing that help on the web.