Archive for the ‘M&A’ Category


Post by Ian Gee.

We believe that Tech will not only reshape how OD is practiced but inevitably it will impact on the types of skills, training and background that the practitioner of the future will need. In this blog we provide a few examples of how we might do things differently taking advantage of what Tech offers us.

With thanks to the Urban Dictionary, here are some definitions:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is about ‘outsourcing our cognition to the machine’ if you use the ‘personal assistant’ on your smartphone you are already making use of AI. HR tech systems use AI, with algorithms to interrogate big data; the aim being to find predictive patterns to enhance decision making.

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) VR is ‘a cyber world where the ugly can be beautiful, the weak can be strong, the old can be young, the poor can be rich, boys can be girls and no one really minds!’. ‘AR blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated’. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world, while interacting with virtual objects, whilst with VR, the user is isolated from the real world and immersed in a fabricated world. 

Gamification The process of turning the world, into a computer game. “Work doesn’t feel like work anymore Harry. It feels like they’ve got me jumping through hoops with these bonus points games. But games are games right? Bring it on!”

Now let’s have a look at how OD can make use of these technologies. These are our initial ideas and we are sure you will have your own ideas – please share them in the comments section.

Globalisation/ New Market Entry/ Business Uncertainty

Many of today’s businesses are looking to trade globally, enter new markets and or are managing a high degree of uncertainty about the future. – Use tailored algorithms to provide real time information for continuous business planning and strategy development processes. AI can carry out companywide sentiment analysis (that is, scan blogs, emails, social media comments etc. about your company and rate them in terms of support etc.), understand market share, employee turnover, pension liability, etc. Build computer based AR/VR simulations that could be used to ‘imagine the future’. Developing a ‘Tower of Babylon’ providing an immersive experiences of different cultures without the need for travel. The opposite is also true. An AR/VR simulation giving new market employees the chance to understand life at HQ.

Regulation, Ethics and Compliance

We live in a world where ethics and compliance failures can put a company under the spotlight and cause massive reputational damage. – Use big data to understand your companies pattern of compliance and non-compliance identifying potential hotspots. Develop VR/AR scenarios that allow employees to act in both an ethical/compliant and non-ethical/non-compliant way, so they can understand the difference and experience the consequences of their actions. 

Organisation Complexity

Organisations face increased complexity in the market place, ways of working, understanding customers, managing stakeholders etc. – Develop a ‘complexity dashboard’ using AI to do the thinking for you and only share with you what you need to know in a format that is easy to understand. At the same time inspires people to incorporate ‘algorithmic thinking’ detail-oriented thinking about methods) into their ways of working. 

Change Overload, Tracking Outcomes and ROI

Organisations can become addicted to change! More than ever we need to track the impact of change and provide evidence of the ROI. – Use algorithmic thinking to identify what changes are critical and will have the biggest impact and use AI to track change and calculate ROI. 


Diversity, in all its forms, is a differentiator in the 21st Century workplace and marketplace. – Track diversity using AI to identify stumbling blocks, talent management issues etc. Identify the positive impacts of diversity through a real-time algorithmically driven ‘Diversity Index’. Use VR/AR to provide employees with the chance to be someone different and experience the workplace from their perspective. Gamification can be used to give points and prizes for employees who are building a culture where diversity flourishes.


Effective leadership is critical to the success of organisations. – Use Ai to understand past leadership success and failures and track the conditions that allow success to occur. Provide a VR/AR experience that lets employees stand in a leader’s shoes and understand the complexity of the role.

Mergers and Acquisitions

70% of M&A activity fails to add value, yet we continue to do it in the same ways. – Use big data to Identify potential targets. Use AR/VR simulations to test integration plans. Gamify integration plans by offering points and prizes for those helping to realise the value of an M&A. Develop an internal ‘stock market’ where employees can invest in ideas related to integration.

Change Management and Culture Change

Successful change management and culture change are still problematic. – Use AR/VR to provide experiences of the positive and negative aspects of your current culture and proposed future culture. Gamify change by developing airline style levels of reward for supporting change, providing points and prizes for ideas and behaviour change. 


Getting the message out there continues to challenge organisations. – Use AR/VR to provide experience of the impact of communication and test how the cascade works. Use a ‘pay it forward’ form of gamification to reward effective impactful communication.

In the comments section it would be great to get your thoughts and comments about this. If any of you are technologically mind and would like to explore any of this in more detail, we would be happy to have a Skype chat or meet for a cup of tea…..


Making the soft stuff hard

Posted: April 7, 2013 by Ian Gee in Change, Human Resources, Leadership, M&A, OD


By Ian Gee:

For the past few weeks I have been wondering how as an OD practitioner I can help make the soft stuff hard? No, this is not my changing career and starting to peddle a snake oil cure for male impotency problems! What I have been mulling over, is how to help managers and leaders make use of the kind of data we, as HR and OD professionals, seek out, understand and know makes the difference between good and bad decisions?

I have decided to explore this by looking at the world of M&A’s, though I think the issues around ‘soft data’ are present in much of our work. About a month or so ago I spoke at an M&A conference about the challenges of using Western OD processes to integrate businesses in the emerging markets. The person who spoke before me shared data on why so many M&A‘s fail to add value to the business and in many, many cases destroys value. This reminded me of a similar M&A session I attended ten years ago when I worked in the OD team at Shell International. I checked my notes from the earlier session and was disheartened to find that the reasons for failure are by and large the same. Not a lot has change in ten years. Lets have a look at what’s at the top of the list:

  1. Incompatible cultures
  2. Inability to manage the target
  3. Unable to implement change
  4. Clash of management styles/egos

To my mind, all these issues fall within the remit of our trade and tend to be seen as the ‘soft stuff’. Here we have a good example of where the consequences of not taking account of soft data end up being hard on the business and on the shareholder we know this is the case and yet very little has happened to make a difference.

As the presentation progressed, there were a lot of head nods and sighs of recognition from the senior HR folks present. I asked a few questions and the overriding response from those present was that it is almost impossible to get CEO’s and other C suite executives to take these issues seriously as they are seen as too soft and fluffy. I felt sorry for the HR folks, who had that tired look you see in people who know they can make a difference, but feel like they are banging their heads against a brick wall.

To explore this further and from new angels I have been having some really stimulating conversations with Tara Swart, (formerly a psychiatrist and neuro scientist and now a leadership coach) and Ruth Stenholtz (formerly a legal general counsel and now a business ethics consultant and executive coach). We have been looking at the issue from a psychological, neuro scientific and business perspective. Here is my initial take; in an M&A situation leaders and managers revert to an almost Neanderthal stance. It’s all about the hunt and the kill. Something goes on in their brains that stops them from taking account of the subtle signals and makes them scoff at any data they don’t consider hard and factual. They want to be seen as winners, bringing home the saber tooth tiger so everyone around can look on in awe!

Tara, Ruth and I taking this work forward to see if we can put something together to help folks like us make the soft stuff hard. Our initial focus is on the M&A space. Our aim is to find a way to help companies not lose value through M&A activities but make them truly transformational to the organisation. Our work is in its early stages but if you want to find out more then let me know.

M&A’s are just one area where we struggle to give true voice to the soft stuff. It would be great to hear from you about how you have been able to convince executives that even if the data is not hard and factual, it is still valid and can have a positive impact on critical business issues that drive top and bottom line results, and therefore warrants their time, focus. Lets get the discussion started!