Javier Hernandez was a successful manager at a California-based tech company. With Hispanic origins, he had always been passionate about diversity and inclusion, and he was excited when his company announced that they were going to merge with a company based in Japan.
Javier knew that merging with a Japanese company would be a challenging process. He had worked with many Japanese colleagues over the years, and he was aware of the cultural differences that often caused misunderstandings and disagreements. But he believed that his company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion would help to bridge the gap and create a successful merger.
At first, everything seemed to be going well. The leaders of both companies were enthusiastic about the merger, and they worked together to create a detailed plan for integrating the two companies. Javier was put in charge of the integration process, and he threw himself into the task with enthusiasm.
But soon, it became clear that there were significant cultural differences between the two companies that threatened to derail the merger. The Japanese company had a hierarchical culture, in which respect for authority and conformity were highly valued. The American company, on the other hand, had a more egalitarian culture, in which individualism and creativity were prized.
These differences became apparent during the integration process, as the two companies began to work together on joint projects. The Japanese employees were often reluctant to speak up in meetings, and they seemed uncomfortable with the American company’s more informal approach to communication. The American employees, on the other hand, were frustrated by what they saw as the Japanese company’s slow decision-making process and its reluctance to take risks.
Javier quickly realized that he needed to address these cultural differences if the merger was to succeed. He reached out to his mentor, Anirvan Sen, a business strategist with decades of experience in international mergers and acquisitions.
“The merger is proving to be more challenging than I thought,” Javier said. “There seem to be significant cultural differences that are causing misunderstandings and disagreements.”
Anirvan nodded thoughtfully. “I see. You know, I may have just the thing for you.”
He got up suddenly and walked out of his office. A few minutes later, he returned with a book in his hand.
“You will find your answers in this book,” Anirvan said, handing the book to Javier. “Over the years, I have encountered hundreds of these cultural challenges. That is why, with the help of time and several industry colleagues, we came up with this framework called PROMISE that will help companies to develop a culture that will create the right conditions to attain immense growth during post-M&A integration.”
Javier looked at the book’s bold title: PROMISE: A Culture Framework to Drive Growth in M&A. He knew that Anirvan’s advice was important, but he also realized that there was more to creating a successful culture than just being patient and respectful and focusing on communication.
“While it is very important to be patient and respectful of others’ culture and have a strong focus on communication, organizations should uncover underlying factors, structures, and practices that create the culture,” Anirvan said. “You had mentioned organization hierarchy, leadership styles as well as employees not opening up in meetings. These are all covered under the ‘O’ of the PROMISE framework which stands for Organization Hierarchy and Leadership styles. You should focus on what hierarchy designs, what communication and interactions, and what leadership styles will be required to create a culture of growth.”
Javier listened carefully, knowing that Anirvan was right. He realized that in order to create a thriving culture, he would need to look at all the underlying factors that contributed to it.
Javier internalized Anirvan’s advice and immediately shifted his focus to the PROMISE framework, recognizing its potential to help him analyze the underlying factors that could influence the success of the merger.
Javier went back after the meeting and then fully mapped the current and the future state culture. He reviewed all the underlying factors of PROMISE: Professional Development, Rewards and Recognition, Organizational Hierarchy and Leadership Styles, Management System, Innovation and Critical Thinking, Strategic Future Capabilities, and Employee Experience. He explained and got active buy-in from all the stakeholders and implemented the framework.
Stakeholders found the PROMISE framework very simple to use and yet extremely powerful. With Javier’s leadership, they were able to create a successful culture that allowed the merged company to thrive.
Javier continued to be patient and respectful, and he was willing to make changes to his approach as needed. He also made sure to celebrate the successes of the merged company, recognizing the contributions of both American and Japanese employees.
Over time, the two companies began to work together seamlessly, and the merger was a resounding success. The new company was stronger and more innovative than either of the original companies had been, and it was able to compete effectively in a rapidly changing market.
Javier felt proud of the work that he had done to make the merger a success. He knew that it had been a challenging process, but he also knew that it had been worth it. By embracing diversity and inclusion and working to bridge the cultural differences between the two companies, he helped to create a company that was stronger and more successful than ever before.
Looking back on the experience, Javier realized that he had learned an important lesson about the importance of cultural awareness and understanding in the world of business. He knew that he would carry this lesson with him throughout his career, and he was excited to see where it would take him next.
Months later, the merger was complete, and the new company was stronger than ever. Javier felt proud of the work that he had done to make it a success. He knew that he had learned an important lesson about the importance of uncovering the underlying factors that contribute to a successful culture, and he was excited to apply this knowledge to future projects.
With a smile, he closed the book and put it back on Anirvan’s desk. “Thank you,” he said. “Your advice was invaluable.”
Anirvan smiled back. “You did the hard work,” he said. “I just gave you a framework to guide you.”