Companies that successfully merge cultures – and leverage a robust communications plan – are positioned for success.
The merger of Adidas and Reebok is one such story. The Adidas culture was focused on sports while Reebok was more about lifestyle. Adidas was a German company and Reebok an American company.
Instead of allowing one brand to cannibalize the other, Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer decided each would maintain its own identity. Strong communication of that cultural goal helped
the plan succeed. Adidas focused on technology and the international market and Reebok built its share of the youth market in the U.S. The business grew, and that meant reduction in costs for manufacturing, distribution and marketing. And the two entities were aligned in the vision.
The Microsoft-Nokia marriage on the other hand, is often used as an example of failure. Microsoft wanted to compete with Apple and Android, so it acquired the mobile phone company. Instead of focusing on a clear cultural and business goal of competing in the mobile phone market, it shifted investment to other parts of Nokia and eventually laid off massive numbers of Nokia workers. It ultimately wrote the entire deal off.
Leaders don’t set out on mergers and acquisitions with a plan to fail. Executives are usually great at crunching the numbers. But if the people get crunched in the process, the deal won’t work, regardless of how profitable it appears on paper.
Getting the cultural goals right from the start and communicating them nonstop are steps that are just as important to take into consideration as the balance sheet and maximizing the bottom line.