Question - how do you successfully combine two large proud organisations, with histories spanning over a century, a combined annual revenue of around US$9 billion, and over 40,000 people in more than 50 countries?

Answer - by treating it as you would any large complex strategically imperative multi-stakeholder programme. The important thing is to begin by truly understanding current location and abilities, then carefully determine and agree the destination before setting and persistently navigating the optimum course of travel.

So, what are some of the key things we’ve done to effectively plan and manage our bold adventure and create certainty in its outcome? I’ll elaborate a little under my three R’s:

Ruthless prioritisation
We began by probing and listening hard on culture, capabilities and ways of working. We agreed clear expectations on the deal rationale, developing straightforward integration principles which ensured we focused on critical issues. We’re in business to add real value and from these efforts turn a good profit, so our direction had to ‘follow the money’. We committed ourselves to one culture throughout the new organisation. Through surveys, interviews and workshops we developed new values and behaviours.

Right people
Systems are important but its people that win, deliver and support successful projects. It requires working interdependently on key priorities with effort and enthusiasm. We resolved any potential ‘power’ issues by getting the right senior team working together early as our Integration Steering Committee, each member actively sponsoring Workstreams. We hand-picked the Integration Management team, the Regional champions and the many Workstream Leaders.

A rewarding challenge in any enterprise is getting it into rhythm. This requires a passionate vision for the future which wins hearts and minds and the determination to design and then really drive the selected business model into life. Our drumbeat included: planning and engaging early, effective governance, sponsorship from top down, momentum in integration and base businesses, making the hard but critical decisions, and investing to create a repeatable integration model.

It’s always a privilege to see a new group of people become a team. Through doing the right thing and delivering on promises we develop our full potential. It’s our commitment to surpass the ordinary.