Long-distance thinking: Applying a marathon mindset to mergers and acquisitions

Explore change management strategies for integrating technologies, promoting cultural alignment, and enhancing customer experience during and after mergers and acquisitions.

Long-distance thinking: Applying a marathon mindset to mergers and acquisitions

Explore change management strategies for integrating technologies, promoting cultural alignment, and enhancing customer experience during and after mergers and acquisitions.

Meet the author

Neira Kajtezovic


Ciara Hale

Managing Consultant

Marathon season has arrived, and runners of all calibres gear up to conquer the daunting yet exhilarating challenge of endurance racing. Whilst the world of marathon running and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) may feel worlds apart, the mindset required is not too dissimilar. Whilst it presents opportunities for optimisation and growth, it requires endurance, preparation, resilience and a long term mindset to achieve sustained success. 

Just as every runner approaches their marathon with a unique strategy, M&A activities can be approached at varying paces, each offering distinct benefits and challenges. Here, we draw parallels between marathons and M&A processes, shedding light on three crucial aspects of an effective operating system that organisations must try and navigate:

  1. System integration of technology
  2. Culture
  3. The impact on customer experience

System Integration of Technology during Mergers & Acquisitions: Stride with Purpose

Marathon runners meticulously plan their pace and strive to conserve energy to optimise their performance. Similarly, in M&A, integrating technology is a critical step to optimising performance as a newly combined entity – ensuring seamless operations, data consistency, and efficiency. In simple terms, there are three options: 

  1. Stay on separate systems 
  2. Merge and consolidate systems 
  3. Identify new opportunities – this could be a net new system, custom integration 

Ultimately, the choice of system integration approach depends on factors such as the complexity of existing systems, budget constraints, timelines, and strategic objectives of the merged entity. A thorough assessment of requirements and careful planning are essential to ensure sustainable growth post-M&A that resonates throughout the organisation

Let’s not forget our marathon pace, rushing the integration process can lead to system disruptions, data breaches, and operational inefficiencies. Adopting a phased approach allows you to break down the integration into manageable phases that are prioritised. It also provides time to ensure stakeholder alignment and engage employees to ensure they feel supported in the new way of working.

Aligning Cultures during M&A’s: Embrace the Collective Spirit

Just as the collective spirit drives marathon runners forward, fostering a unified organisational culture during an M&A integration and transformation is essential. 

Cultural alignment goes beyond these similarities, encompassing shared values, beliefs, and behaviours that shape an organisation. Leaders must proactively: 

  1. Define the culture you want to be known for. This involves articulating core values, behaviours, and cultural attributes that support the new vision and mission. It’s important to involve key stakeholders from both organisations in this process to ensure buy-in and alignment. 
  2. Assess cultural compatibility and develop an integration strategy including- initiatives such as cultural sensitivity training, cross-cultural workshops, and leadership development programs to foster understanding and alignment 
  3. Openly communicate and engage employees on the rationale behind the merger, the vision for the future, and how cultural alignment supports the overall strategy. Provide regular updates that foster open and two-way engagement to help bridge the divide and get feedback 
  4. Monitor & celebrate successes and milestones along the integration journey to recognize progress and reinforce desired behaviours. This can include acknowledging individual and team achievements, sharing success stories, and organising cultural events or activities that unite employees.

Now that we’ve covered the do’s, here are some of the dont’s when it comes to merging cultures post M&A: 

  • Ignore employee concerns
  • Force an assimilation of cultures
  • Micromanage cultural integration and impose rigid frameworks
  • Rush the process
  • Lose sight of the vision and strategic objectives

Customer Experience: Adapting to New Terrain

Just as marathoners face challenging routes and unpredictable weather, organisations embarking on M&A journeys must anticipate shifts in their customer experience. The impact of M&A on customer experience can range from minimal disruption to radical transformation. Changes in services & products offered, communication channels, branding, support channels and culture can all be managed with: 

  1. A clear communication strategy ensures you communicate early and transparently with customers about the M&A process, its rationale, and potential impacts on their experience. Make sure to provide regular updates so they know what to expect.
  2. Understanding of your customer needs and expectationsPrioritise initiatives that address customer needs and enhance their experience during and after the M&A process.
  3. Maintaining service continuity  – Invest in training for employees to maintain service quality and consistency during the transition.
  4. Preserving brand equityHighlight both the positive aspects of each brand involved in the M&A and how the merged entity will uphold this to maintain customer trust and loyalty
  5. Empowering employees – Equip frontline staff with the knowledge and tools they need to address customer inquiries and concerns effectively. This will enable you to quickly respond and adapt to challenges.

Whether the customer experience undergoes mild adjustments or radical transformation, organisations must prioritise their customer experience in order to thrive in the competitive landscape.

In summary, navigating mergers and acquisitions is akin to running a marathon: it requires strategic planning, resilience, and adaptability to overcome challenges and emerge victorious. By embracing the analogies of pace, collective spirit, and terrain, organisations can harness the transformative potential of M&A to optimise operational models, enhance capabilities, and deliver exceptional value to customers in the digital age.


If you want to hear more about how Clarasys can help you maximise the performance of your organisation post M&A, please get in touch.

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