From separate cultures to the best of both

The challenge

A leading global search engine company had experienced exponential growth recently and contacted Axialent for guidance. Although the company had acquired many small companies during its astounding expansion, this was its biggest acquisition ever: a US$3 billion company with 1,000 employees. For the first time, instead of imposing their culture on the acquired firm, they would need to think strategically about how to integrate the best of both cultures to mitigate the risk of potential talent loss and consequent company value erosion.

The approach

In the early days of the acquisition, Axialent facilitated a series of key business meetings as the two new leadership teams were coming together, helping the company move through Axialent’s five stages of cultural integration.

  • They created the appropriate context and ground rules to unearth “undiscussables” within the teams.
  • Skill building was focused on inquiry, shifting the team from a “know it all” attitude to openness and curiosity to learn from one another.
  • Executive coaching was also offered to deal with the emotional turmoil of change (fear of losing jobs, stress of a new manager, concerns of losing their unique culture, etc.) and to help executives prepare key conversations.

Five stages of culture integration:

The impact

The team leader reported how investing time in creating the right context and shifting the team’s mental models greatly increased the effectiveness of the integration efforts moving forward. We had been developing conscious business skill building for some time in the organization, and they found incredible value in the concrete application to a business situation that substantially increased their chances of success.

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