Human Impact of Mergers
Danny Ludeman, CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors, recently spoke at Webster University as part of its Success to Significance Speaker Series. He spent part of his time talking about lessons learned during the A.G. Edwards: Wachovia Securities merger including several surprises that even a CEO as experienced as he was not prepared for.
We’ll share just a few them for your consideration. First, he talked about never underestimating the human impact of an acquisition or merger. He noted that the economics of the transaction were fairly simple. It was the effect on people that one should never underestimate.
Secondly, he felt that his team focused too much on the similariites of cultures. For example, both were customer-centric cultures. But the ways in which they expressed customer service were quite different. They underestimated the impact of those differences on their efforts to integrate the organizations.
One final observation of Ludeman’s that he spoke of as a both a business and a life lesson: the importance of differentiating between wants and needs. The concrete example he used from the A.G. Edwards:Wachovia Securities merger was the legacy A.G. Edwards employees’ ”need” to be part of an organization with a reputation for integrity and customer service. As a result, they expressed their “want” to retain the A.G. Edwards name. Their “want” was a barrier to seeing other ways to meet their legitimate need.
As you think about mergers and acquisitions you have experienced, which of these lessons resonate with you?