Lessons from mega mergers – excerpts from talk by Tom Kendra (Symantec)

Tom Kendra, Executive Vice President of Symantec spoke at last week’s ACG event. Kendra shared the lessons from mega mergers (remember Symantec-Veritas deal.)

Kendra’s 7 lessons for mega mergers are as follows:

1. Have a plan.
Most mega mergers fail because people have not thought through the merger end to end.

2. Establish when decisions are giong to be made and who will make them.

3. Manage the timing of your personnel announcements.
If you announce too early, people leave. If you announce too late, you won’t be ready with the right structure for the future.

4. Keep the momentum going.
There is a need to continue to focus on keeping the basic programs and revenue engine running. Sometimes people tend to get carried away and think that the integration of two companies is the most important thing.

5. Be prepared for departures.
There are two key reasons that people will leave 1) people don’t get what they want or 2) people don’t like their jobs. Replacement plans have to extend across the top management jobs and at least for three levels deep.

6. Keep customers first.

7. Start thinking about the skills required for new company
Skills required may be vastly different levels of operational experience and people may simply not scale to the new job.

I wanted to know what were the top three surprises during the Symantec Veritas merger deal and Kendra’s response was:

1. People quitting because they didn’t get what they wanted.

2. People quitting because they got what they wanted.

3. Tremendous amount of communication required to squelch rumors.

It was a great talk followed by a highly interactive Q&A session. Thanks Tom.

On a lighter note, Kendra recollected John Thompson‘s quote about mega mergers “You sleep like a baby during mega mergers – meaning you get up every hour.