1. Always remember that a merger is putting two groups of people together not just two business entities. People have feelings and emotions.
2. Merger is not a strategy, not a purpose or solution by itself. It can be a way of achieving a strategic business purpose.
3. The apparently perfect jigsaw fit of complementary practice areas or geographic spread does not guarantee success (see 1. above)
4. It helps to have an agreed structured process for exploring and negotiating a merger – even if it starts opportunistically
5. Money is, of course, always important and for a very wide range of reasons (some unexpected) – e.g. attitude to risk, ego, relationship between partner/owners and other staff
6. Sort out the big contentious issues first …… or leave them until there is a sense of positive momentum? No right or wrong answer, but worth thinking through.
7. Include the “anti’s” in the process.
8. Some people will look at the big picture and some will focus on the detail. They reflect different personality types (e.g. as reflected in an MBTI profile). Both approaches are of value.
9. Expect some bumps along the road – resistance to change is normal.
10. The best way to get a merger to work is for people to do real work together (whether that’s a client project or a marketing initiative).
(With acknowledgement and grateful thanks to Professor Stephen Mayson, David Maister and others.)