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Tales from the M&A Crypt: Why so many transactions go off script

Tales from the M&A Crypt: Why so many transactions go off script

It was a match made in heaven. Research showed a healthy company. Financials checked out. Meetings went great. The courtship was a success. But after the transaction, seemingly out of nowhere, things didn’t go as expected.

From Amazon and Whole Foods to HP and Compaq and Marriott and Starwood — there is no shortage of bumpy integrations. Too often we hear, “We couldn’t have predicted this. We couldn’t have prevented this.” But is that true?

The pivotal mistake.

Watching organizations make investment decisions using traditional due-diligence is like watching the protagonist in a horror movie run upstairs from the murderer. WHY do they keep doing that when there are so many other options? Don’t they know the statistics are not in their favor?

Unfortunately, the odds are just as dismal on Wall Street as they are on Elm Street. Over 70% of mergers and acquisitions fail to meet their objectives. Why?

To be fair, It’s not that traditional due diligence is missing the mark completely, it’s that it brushes over a critical component—the people. At the end of the day, it’s not just dollars, cents, and strategic plans that make a company successful, it’s the people. People control how dollars are spent. People are in charge of carrying out plans. Peoples’ behavior and decisions define workplace dynamics. People will make or break your investment.

Human beings are behind the numbers that we crunch and the strategies that we analyze when we target investments.

It’s critical to success that investors start looking beyond the numbers to leadership readiness and culture compatibility. That they are clear about strategic goals and weigh them against questions such as:

  • Are executives ready to lead through change?
  • Are your cultures compatible?
  • Is the team ready to scale?
  • Which norms and behaviors might prevent synergy?
  • Will existing dynamics obstruct success and growth?

These predictive insights are quantifiably proven to impact ROI after a transaction, so why is it not a mandatory component of the due diligence process? Perhaps because it’s normal to want to run in the opposite direction of things that seem counterproductive to our immediate objective. Analyzing people seems too subjective, too immeasurable to be an accurate and valuable indicator of ROI. But it’s the missing component that experts predict will be a game-changer in post-COVID mergers & acquisitions.

Flipping the script

The good news? After years of working with leaders to scale teams and build resilient companies, we have found that people are predictable (and coachable), patterns do emerge, and gathering quantitative data on leadership and culture is not only possible, but advantageous to transaction outcomes and ROI. A non-financial evaluation adds depth to due diligence by evaluating factors that are proven to impact an organization’s ability to thrive after a transaction. And incorporating these evaluations into a financial due diligence process is quite seamless.

As the M&A plotline continues to thicken in the wake of a tumultuous year, non-financial due diligence could mean the difference between a blockbuster transaction and another mediocre sequel.

Take your due diligence to the next level. 

Contact us to learn more.

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

We sat with Amelia Truett, one of our executive coaches, to hear more about what it’s like to coach and be coached. We spoke about the power of questions, her path to becoming a coach, and the value that coaching generates for clients.

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

Because we believe in holistically supporting our clients on their path to success, leadership coaching is an integral part of our approach.

We sat with Amelia Truett, one of our executive coaches, to hear more about what it’s like to coach and be coached.  We spoke about the power of questions, her path to becoming a coach, and the value that coaching generates for clients.

Organizations must change in order to grow, realize their missions, optimize profit… to flourish. And yet humans hate to change. How does coaching connect with that?

As a younger person, I strongly disliked and feared change. Experience changed my perspective. After living through lots of major changes, some of my choosing and others not, I began to see that my relationship with change was definitively not helpful.

Some of those changes were incredibly hard. This is why strength-based coaching resonates with me. I see people as the experts in themselves. Our clients are the experts. They are whole and nuanced individuals. As a coach, I am not here to fix them, but to help them develop and grow towards the goals and intention they have for their work and lives.

Whole doesn’t mean perfect. It doesn’t even mean always performing well. It does mean that clients have the fundamental tools needed to change and develop available to them.

How has coaching changed your perspective on individual and organizational success?

Coaching has broadened my perspective on what success looks like. There are so many paths to success. This comes back to the idea of wholeness. I am not here to fix my clients. One of my clients was the Executive Director of a nonprofit that was merging her organization into another organization. As a part of our engagement, she made a small mental shift around one belief. That small shift opened so many doors and unlocked her perspective in a way that allowed the merger to be successful.

Personally, I’ve changed tremendously through my experience as a coach. Each time a client learns and connects the dots in new ways, I get to learn with them. Coaching is all about a forward-looking mindset. Timing is important. For change to be sustainable, a client needs to move at his or her own pace.

How can coaching shift mental models?

Coaching uncovers hidden gaps and blind spots. Once an organization or an individual sees the gap, they can take action to close the gap. There is a particular kind of empowerment that is created when a person makes a deeply meaningful connection and articulates a gap aloud to another person. 

Coaching provides a structure for expansive thinking. Coaching is the scaffolding that supports the client as they make changes and create new results. Once clients begin to see one thing differently, it changes how she or he interacts with colleagues, the organization, and the world around them. There is a positive ripple effect.

What tends to hold people back?

Limiting beliefs hold people back. These are the stories that we tell ourselves about what is possible or not. We are in control of the stories we tell ourselves. Coaching conversations can shift the mental models that individuals rely on. Individuals in turn have the power to transform organizations and entire systems.

How do clients turn questions into action?

Coaching encourages ownership and personal accountability for action. Taking action on purpose means knowing why you are taking action. After experiencing coaching, clients have a better understanding not only of how they want to lead or manage, but also why that approach will work for them and their organization. 

How did you end up becoming a coach?

My first experience with coaching was as a client. I was stuck and unable to accomplish goals that were very important to me.

The funny thing is that I distinctly remember wondering why I was paying a coach when I was the one doing all the work. This illustrates how coaching differs from other types of interventions such as mentoring or consulting. With coaching, the coach follows the client’s lead and the client does the work. Initially, I didn’t understand that was how coaching works.

Coaching questions are challenging. There is not an easy answer. But the questions are fruitful. 

Six years later when I considered making a career change, another coach offered an exercise to write about two instances when I felt wildly successful. I saw so many patterns regarding strengths used and actions that I enjoyed taking that aligned with coaching. For example, I love encouraging the growth in others. When I ask a coaching question without an attachment to the outcome of the answer, it opens doors in unexpected ways. I delight in witnessing what emerges. Throughout my experience as a coach, I am continually amazed at what is created by the client.

How is a coaching question different from other types of questions?

Coaching questions are open ended. As a society, our culture often interprets silence and pauses negatively. In coaching, it represents thoughtfulness and an opening for new ideas or a fresh perspective. It is  good when someone takes time to think quietly during a coaching session.

Similarly, American culture and many companies reward us for having the answer. This is how we are socialized in school. Being coached is more about thinking about the right questions, not about having the right answers. Coaching has more in common with disciplines like science and research, which are founded on asking why and testing hypotheses.

Where do you see answers being valued more than questions? Can a coaching culture help shift that and provide value?

This shows up everywhere! I studied accounting as an undergrad and grew up in the business world. It was a black and white world where knowing what to say and how to answer a question was important and rewarded. Many organizations, apps, and products are valued because they offer concrete solutions. You don’t go to a financial planner for the purpose of receiving open-ended questions.

Coaching is counter to the culture of organizations that value formulaic thinking with clear inputs and outputs.

I’ve coached in organizations where people were so conditioned to the answer paradigm, that early attempts to introduce a coaching mindset and use coaching questions drew blank stares.

It often seems easier to coach in mission-driven organizations where the focus is on the mission rather than products.

That’s not to say that coaching isn’t results-oriented. Coaching is very intentional and goal-oriented. Effective coaching works towards well-defined goals.

Amelia Truett holds a certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, an MBA from the George Washington University, and a BS in Accounting & Finance from Virginia Tech. 

Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.

Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.

 

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

read more

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways.

With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

For starters, look beyond the happy.

Workplace culture is often misconstrued for happiness—“are my employees happy?” But “happy” is just a bi-product of culture, not the definition of it. 

If you’re serious about promoting a culture that values diversity, equity, and belonging, here are some questions to ask beyond “are my employees happy?”

  1. Do all employees feel heard and feel comfortable being themselves?
  2. Do women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, etc, have higher turnover rates?
  3. Are employees in the same position being paid equally?
  4. Is there true representation at senior levels?
  5. What corporate goals, metrics, and incentive programs align with desired behaviors?

Next, take a look in the mirror.

Ultimately, workplace culture starts with its leadership. A leader’s decisions, what and how they communicate with others, the policies they create—all of this and more—set the foundation for culture. Leaders are the first stewards of an organization’s values and they must lead by example, personally practicing and reinforcing the behaviors and beliefs that they want to define their organizational culture.

Every member of a team has the potential to contribute to the culture of an organization as well. Each brings their own personality, perspectives, and realities to the table. But, it’s up to leaders to create an environment that enables them to do so (both a physical and psychological environment).  

Finally, shift intentionally

Cultures that are left on “autopilot” are likely to stray from an organization’s core values, and worse, allow unacceptable or toxic behaviors to become the norm. This can ripple outward, endangering everything from morale to the bottom line. 

An ideal culture is formed with intention and informed by clearly defined values. Start the shift by:

  1. Talking one-on-one with employees. Remember that as a leader, you do not have a monopoly on “the right way” of doing things. It is important to listen to employees’ ideas and concerns. 
  2. Re-evaluating your organizational value statement. Does it incorporate DEI values?
  3. Infusing your values into process, evaluations, and promotions. 
  4. Establishing D&I working groups and giving them a seat at all key leadership discussions.

Always remember that integrating diversity and inclusion values into your culture is not a linear process with a stationary endpoint. It involves ongoing evaluation, iteration, communication, and growth. Just as the conversation in our nation continues to evolve, so will your organization. It’s important to check in often, and push the cultural narrative forward with humility and intention.

Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.

Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.

 

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

read more

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

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Conscient Leaders: Interview with Al Johnson and Broderick Young

Conscient Leaders: Interview with Al Johnson and Broderick Young

We spoke with Broderick Young and Al Johnson, wealth management experts and founders of Reveal Wealth, about what it takes to be a better business leader in today’s world. Three things to focus on, they say: environment, empathy, and equity.

Read the full transcipt below.

Al: 
To leaders out there: I would say that they need to strive to make their environment the most comfortable environment and positive environment that they can. I heard a quote and Brod just brought it to my mind that said, “your environment is more important than your heritage.” As we look at and get a broader, or maybe even a better sense of the disparities, the gaps, the inequality that surrounds individuals in this country, I think it’s vitally important that leaders make sure that the environment that they create is one of exposure, is one of positivity, and one, one of hope for their, for their people. If they really want to make a difference, we can, you know, start there.

Broderick:
In a leadership role, I think it’s important to listen. These are people’s experiences. And recognizing that maybe you don’t know, and the reality that you did not know it, but there’s a segment of America that has had no choice but to know it. Right? They had to know this. This is like, when we talk about, as Al says, heritage and environment, this is not just their heritage, this has structured their environment right now. And not that demonizing anyone to say that, “Oh, it’s your fault that this happened.” But recognizing that, no, this is a person’s reality. This is affecting their current situation. And if you can do something at this point to help make that better, not a handout or, or anything, but can you help position them in a place where they can make that situation better? I think as a leader, that’s something you should consider doing.

Hannah: 
Yeah there’s no question, listening to your people. Everybody’s different, right? As a leader, part of your job is to figure out what makes different people tick and what are the different things that different people need to drive them to help you succeed what you’re trying to succeed as an organization. And it is, it takes a lot of listening. It takes a lot of back and forth, because you’re not necessarily gonna get it right on the first go, and recognize that there are so many people who may have grown up in constructs and structures that didn’t allow them to feel safe, to voice what may be getting in the way. So we’re working real hard to create that listening, and that space for listening and then taking action is one of the best things you can do right now.

Hannah: 
I’d love to hear from your perspective, how does the intersection of wealth management and corporate diversity really come to bear and what are some things that corporations could be doing to really drive that inclusion forward?

Broderick: 
I would, I would challenge people to really think, especially those leaders out there, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, I focus more on equity and productivity. 50 to 60% of employees spend at least three hours a week worried about their finances. 71% of them say that their financial situation worry impacts their daily workday. Right? You have a lot of individuals who are first generation grads, first generation people actually making good money, but don’t really know what to do with it, because of the reality that I don’t have the uncle that I can borrow $10,000 from. My mom, God bless her, but I can’t call her up and say, “Hey mom, I need $25,000 because X, Y, Z happened.” So there’s little room for me to make errors with what it is I’m doing and how I’m planning. Those nuances need to be taken into consideration and the education that employers can help give to their employees to mitigate those stresses would be invaluable.

Al: 
One of the things that leaders and employers can do to help even that playing field, so to speak, to make things equitable as much as they can is make the resources available. Right? So if you know a Broderick or, you know, someone else, like he said in a not as good of situation, did not have the financial knowledge or the financial wellness in order to make the proper decisions to help close said wealth gap or racial wealth gap that we’re, that we’re speaking of as an added benefit to the corporation, to their employees, maybe they could bring in a Reveal Wealth, right? So we can bring about diversity and inclusion through the utilization of financial literacy.

 

About Reveal Wealth:

Reveal Wealth, is a Maryland-based wealth management and financial planning firm. Their mission is to Reveal the strategies and financial tools that have been utilized throughout history to protect, accumulate, and ultimately distribute wealth. Learn more at werevealwealth.com.

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

read more

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

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Conscient Strategies welcomes Carole Zawatsky

Conscient Strategies welcomes Carole Zawatsky

We are pleased to welcome Carole R. Zawatsky to the team.

Carole has worked in the arts, culture, and non-profit sector for over 25 years, and is known for facilitating dynamic partnerships between the funding community and the institutions she has directed. Most recently, she served as CEO of the Edlavitch DCJCC, where she raised over $20 million for a complete renovation of the 65,000 square foot historic building. Over the course of her tenure, Carole also expanded programming and brought national recognition to the Center for its world class arts and culture offerings. She stepped down from the position in June 2020 to join the Conscient Strategies team.

Known for building strong leadership teams that drive institutions forward, Carole approaches her work with optimism, enthusiasm, and creativity. She believes that tapping the greatest strengths of each individual and teaching them to leverage their natural talents builds the self-confidence necessary to grow as professionals. She has excelled at supporting professionals in finding their voice, and letting go of the fears that might hold them back. She is particularly passionate about helping senior staff understand and align their budgets with the institutional mission and vision.

Carole’s leadership expertise make her an ideal addition to the Conscient Strategies team, and one that will surely be an asset to our clients.  To learn more about Carole, click here.  And, please join us in welcoming her to our team by sending her an email.

Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.

Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.

 

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

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How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

read more

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

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Agile Strategy During Crisis

Agile Strategy During Crisis

During times of crisis, leaders need to focus on the countless urgent needs of the business. You need to make quick, and sometimes painful, decisions. Taking risks with an eye to the future might feel contrary to the desire to be protective of your operations. An agile approach to strategy can help you lead your team and take actions that help you to shift in crisis while positioning your organization to emerge from crisis successfully.

Your strategy should enable you to adapt, not hold you back, during times of chaos and uncertainty. The COVID-19 crisis is an extreme situation, exacerbating and highlighting the constant change and disruption that have characterized the environment over the past few years. During these uncertain times, your strategy provides guardrails for decision making.

 

 

Agility involves evaluating a rapidly evolving business environment, testing ideas, and continuously iterating on a living strategic plan.  Your strategy tells you who you are and what you are known for, things that are important to hold on to, even now. If you don’t have a living strategy, we recommend you set aside time to rapidly clarify  the defining elements of your organization. Does everyone on your team know your values, mission, and unique market proposition? What are the non-negotiable aspects of your culture? Once that critical, strategic first step to navigating successfully through this period is complete, you will have a better sense of how best to maneuver through this ever changing landscape.

Click here for more on agile strategic planning.

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A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

A Conversation with Leadership Coach Amelia Truett

We sat with Amelia Truett, one of our executive coaches, to hear more about what it’s like to coach and be coached. We spoke about the power of questions, her path to becoming a coach, and the value that coaching generates for clients.

read more
How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.

As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways. With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?

read more

Ready to grow a stronger organization? 

Contact us to get started.

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