Functional Leads and Integration Big Picture

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    Elizabeth Perlak

    In my experience functional leads are excellent and knowing and advocating their areas of expertise but often have blinders to larger picture implications and interactions. What are your best practices for helping the functional leads work less siloed and more collaboratively?


    Great question, @perlake! Whether an M&A project or just the daily grind, breaking down silos is critical to business success. Certainly everyone has a channel, a lane, where they are most effective and that encompasses their scope of responsibilities. But when new experiences, skills, or talent is needed to execute, it is critical for people to feel comfortable reaching across departments to all levels of the company for help and support.

    The best way I have found includes several behaviors. 1) Inspire a shared vision: Make sure all understand that for the M&A Project (at the least) and the post merger entity, all are part of the same team with the same goal in mind and none of us knows everything. As such, set the expectation that when an issue comes up and you need help, they should go to the functional SME and ask for help. 2) Enable Others to Act: If there are barriers that are keeping people in their silos, break through them. If that means you have to hand walk someone from HR to Finance/Accounting and sit them in front of a business analyst, do it. 3) Model the Way: As a key leader or at least a key team member in the project, show others how to break through silos by doing it yourself. Go out of your way to include other functions and other people in the process. 4) Encourage the Heart: Be supportive when people break through the silos, coach them when they don’t. Ask leading and sometimes probing questions to get encourage the behavior and celebrate it when it happens. 5) Challenge the Process: It may be antithetical of the current culture to break through silos. In such situations, it is even more important that you challenge this. End the cycle of “this is the way we have always done it”. In an M&A, someone will always have to do their job differently regardless of if they are the acquirer or the acquired.

    Hope that helps!

    Matthew Brown

    Gosh, this is such a timely topic for me! There are so many dependencies between many of the functions, it’s how to see how they can work in a silo and expect integration success! We’ve stood up a weekly touch point now for the key functional leads to talk through key integrations, issues, dependencies, and decisions that need to be addressed.

    Our IMO is leveraging a cloud based tool that we’re all trying to get better at using that highlights the aforementioned items and reports on them to an M&A Steering Committee, where the functional leaders sit, which some of us attend as needed as well.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s “forcing” conversations and our IMO leads are good at enabling these discussions.

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