Should merger & acquisition (M&A) initiatives be waterfall or are there ways to make them agile?

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VP, Director of Cyber Incident Response in Finance (non-banking), 10,001+ employees
Because I'm an incident response guy, my view of mergers and acquisitions tends to be rather myopic. I don't know they're happening until somebody knocks on my door and says, "What do you know about X?" So it's difficult for me to figure out how to lean manage something like that because when you acquire or merge with another company, you're on a regulatory deadline and a purchase deadline more than anything else. 

You still have your program with all the steps, and now you just have to determine the timeframe needed to get them all done. And will you cut corners? Or will you say, "This will be the minimum viable product (MVP) plus one"—which is a phrase I hate because when you add a Git to plus one, I've yet to see that happen. But you still have the same number of steps and you have to get them all done or somebody has to sign off on the risk.
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Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

Agreed. I think it’s also the same thing for us, although some folks do include whatever work that is coming out of M&A in their scrum work and prioritize it.

Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Especially for smaller companies going through M&A, I feel it's more efficient to go through the waterfall thing and say, "We're going to identify all our work stream leads and for each work stream, let's meet the closing date and the post-close activities." That's worked out best for us.
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
I've seen in some places where they include M&A work on their Kanban boards and I always found that weird. I understand the concept of having visibility of work in progress within an organization and I also get that you want to measure the utilization and efficiency of a person within the organization. But by nature, an M&A will be waterfall as it will be sequential. There are particular steps that you have to take, otherwise you'll run afoul of audit, compliance, regulatory, policies and various things like ACC, if it's publicly traded.

There are small areas where you can introduce automation, reduce or eliminate the waste wherever possible and try to speed up the process and make it more lean, but beyond that I'm not sure. Having been through a couple of painful M&As, I don't understand how it’s possible to have an MVP of an M&A; I don't think that really exists. You either have a merger or an acquisition or it implodes.
CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
It's a difficult question. The nearest I got to an M&A was when I was at Ford Motor Company and they bought Jaguar Land Rover. That tended to be more waterfall but these are very large companies so it was because of the sheer scale of it. Every functional area with aspects that needed to be merged in or connected had their own waterfall plan and there were numerous layers. There were multiple program managers and it was a lot of work over a long period of time. And even then it wasn't a full integration, just connecting the dots in the right places.

But I think the lean approach to it still holds true. It's about where's the value needed most: Where will you get the most value? And do you fully combine processes, or roll one process over the other like the Cisco approach, where you come in with bulldozers and don't leave very much left?

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