Developing culture during merger and acquisition


Rolls-Royce is a significant global player providing highly-efficient integrated power and propulsion solutions for aerospace, marine, energy and off-highway applications. They are one of the world’s leading producers of engines powering applications as diverse as rail locomotives and luxury yachts. With a highly-developed supply-chain partnership and over 60,000 employees, Rolls-Royce operates at the highest level of advanced manufacturing and after-sales support services around the world.

The Brief

Rolls-Royce is always seeking to strengthen its market position, through innovation and strategic acquisition. In July 2016, the other shareholder in an aerospace joint venture business decided to exercise their option to sell. To oversee an orderly transition of assets and people to the parent company, Rolls-Royce formed an integration team.

This team decided to conduct some work around the cultures of the two organisations; specifically to explore:

  • The ‘ways of working’ of the business being acquired (a Spanish organisation with 4 manufacturing and servicing locations and a presence in 6 countries).
  • How this compares and contrasts with the key functions that will interface with the acquired business?
  • What cultural factors drive performance in each respective business?
  • Actions required to better align the two businesses from a ‘ways of working’ perspective, and to leverage any positive performance drivers to support the integration.

The Solution

After being awarded the work following a competitive tender, we quickly established the key requirements for delivery and then working with both organisations we:

  • Implemented a values-based culture survey, in Spanish and English, to provide quality insight into the respective ‘ways of working’ of the acquired company and the relevant client functions. This was imperative in providing specific guidance on the key characteristics driving the current culture in each organisation and to identify the values that would determine the success of the new organisation. Working with over 600 respondents, we conducted a number of Barrett Values Centre values surveys and produced a summary for functions and locations.
  • Debriefed a group of representatives on the results, the implications, and the relevant actions and next steps. Working with senior leaders, we gathered and analysed valuable qualitative information about the opportunities and potential pitfalls of integration.
  • Facilitated a small number of exploratory workshops with key representatives of the target population to unpack the results further and gain insights that shaped action plans in support of a smooth transition. Feedback from all relevant sites was obtained and synthesised into the final presentation which was made to representatives from the executive team of both organisations.

The Results

Rolls-Royce made a significant commitment in time and resources to conduct a cultural due diligence, ahead of completing their acquisition. Doing this work was fundamentally beneficial to the acquisition because it:

  • Gave senior people the reassurance that the cultural ‘stretch’ between the two organisations was bridgeable.
  • Demonstrated some shared views about how the future is perceived by both parties.
  • Highlighted some potentially negative cultural differences or ‘pinch-points’.
  • Showed the acquired company that Rolls-Royce had a broad interest in understanding how to engage culturally with their employees.
  • Provided the basis for an improved integration plan

“Primeast was selected following a competitive tender to identify the consultants that could best help us understand the working cultures and opportunities of bringing together two organisations. They were professional, experienced and very knowledgeable, and tailored their solution to meet our business need.”

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