The concept of “First 100 days” is an interesting one. It is not the timeframe during which the task needs to be achieved, but just the barometer that gives us a sense of whether things are progressing in the right direction or heading for failure. The first 100 days set the tone: trust, energy, adoption, versus concern, scepticism and reluctance.
A newly elected politician must demonstrate within the first 100 days of a four-year term that some of his or her pledges have been kick-started, or will otherwise lose all credibility in the eyes of the public. The same applies in the case of Post Merger Integration. However, I have observed that the initial focus on the first 100 days can be detrimental to the quality of the planning and knowledge transfer that need to take place beyond that initial milestone. There appears to be a perception that most of the integration work can be dealt with within those 100 days and that the dust will have settled within that time horizon.
Whereas the client company will have enjoyed the support of consultants and advisors in the run-up to closing the deal and in the early days of the integration process, it is then left with its own resources and often a serious gap in experience beyond that initial launch. After considering the cost of getting experienced resources on board, many companies will attempt to carry out the integration by themselves, the plan being that they will resort to calling in additional resources only if and when the combined task of driving the integration and running the day-to-day business becomes overwhelming. In reality, by the time the company realises and admits that it can no longer cope without external help, the ongoing business and the integration process might both have suffered significantly. Putting things back on track at that point will be challenging – it at all possible – resulting in greatly increased integration costs and a gap in commercial performance.
No one should underestimate the importance of giving the integration the right impulse from the onset : the first 100 days are the crucial and unique opportunity to build interest, energy and excitement in the company, but during that same time everything needs to be set up and ready to provide traction beyond the initial kick-start. Sustainable change needs to be driven and supported over extended periods of time. Client companies need to be made aware that post merger integration is not a 100-metre sprint, but more like long-distance running, possibly even a marathon. And marathon runners know they can only succeed with excellent preparation and good coaching.