During and after the 1997 merger of Franklin Quest and the Covey Leadership Center, the newly formed Franklin Covey Co. had the unique opportunity to practice what it preached. The company counts change management, M&A integration, business communication and strategic alignment among its many training and consulting offerings. The practice, Executive Vice President Stephen Covey avows, was difficult at times, but Franklin Covey's preachings (i.e., its service offerings) are much stronger as a result.
"We have an empathetic understanding of what goes on in a merger and what the key issues are," Covey says. "When we treated ourselves as formal clients during our integration, we realized better, faster results than when we did not."
Here are three practices for addressing the human issues of the post-integration that Franklin Covey found to be particularly valuable:
Develop a shared & compelling vision. "Differences are strengths when you have a common purpose and a shared vision," says Covey. "But when you don't have a common purpose or a shared vision, the differences can undermine the new organization."
Balance understanding with speed. Franklin Covey often advises clients conducting mergers to "seek first to understand." That means developing much more than a cursory understanding of how each culture can benefit the newly created culture. "And that requires time and depth," says Covey, "but it has to be balanced with the need for speed." If a newly merged company does not integrate quickly it can get bogged down in people issues that obscure the bigger-picture value of the deal.
Evaluate third alternatives. Franklin Covey created synergy teams to examine external practices that might be better to adopt than operational and cultural practices from either of the two previous organizations. "We said, 'Let's use market criteria rather than lineage criteria,' " Covey notes. " 'Let's pick something better than either of us have.' We didn't achieve it in every case, and it took some time. But in many cases, we came up with third alternatives that were truly better." He also emphasizes that the third alternatives were not compromises that blended Franklin and Covey's previous approaches, but new and better strategies. —E.K.