A difficult decision

It was my first client. Two companies were merged. Former competitors each with a full line of industrial products. Decisions had to be made. Who continued to make what products? Who would not? Big decisions. Products. Jobs. Budgets. Production facilities. Power and influence. And national politics, for it involved two very large and very well know companies. Global companies.

Traditionsunternehmen, as the Germans call them. Politics at the highest levels are involved in such mergers. In order to decide on how to merge the product lines – continue, combine or eliminate – executive management opted to have the two sides compete with each other. A horrible decision. It led to a kind of civil war between the two companies. Trench warfare. “Us against them!” Each side dressed-up their numbers, some even manipulated them.

Accusations flew back and forth. “It got ugly fast”, said one of the Americans. The decisions were made. There were winners and losers. Country A got Product 1. Country B got Product 2. But Country B had driven the invention and development of Product 2 over generations. They saw themselves as that product’s parent, and Country A as the illegitimate parents, who really did not love and care for their “child”.

Little thought about long-term effects

They would certainly give preference to their “biological children”, their own products. There was the fear, and partly concrete evidence, that Country A was starving Product 1 to death. For the “parents of that child” in Country B it was a nightmare with so many sleepless nights. A horrible decision, indeed. The decision in and of itself, but also how they went about making it.

Purposely, consciously creating heated competition within a newly-merged company. Pitting new colleague against new colleague. Little thought about the immediate and long-term effects. Amateurish. Irresponsible. Over time the “biological parents” were given access to their “child”. But the wounds still run deep. Both sides continue to fight over the child.

A difficult decision