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The ThirdWave Process

Read this overview about our methodology and how it can work to increase the value of an acquisition.

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Diagnostic PhaseStrategic UnityOrganizational EngagementOrganizational AlignmentStrategic Opportunities

            (Click on chevron for more information about each phase).

The integration process takes time.  An incomplete integration emits characteristics of isolation, declining cooperation, cultural dissonance, and internal competition.  People will often blame cultural differences, but our experience suggests that a lack of a common goal set is more often the problem.  Integrating strategic goals and gaining commitment from the acquired organization to those goals is a difficult and time consuming process.  Our programs help to accelerate and focus these efforts.

Typical results that are achieved with the use of AcquisitionWorks programs include:

  • Accelerated financial results
  • Improved focus on customer value and the strategic intent of the acquisition
  • Increased employee commitment
  • Clear and measurable action for long term sustainability
  • Reduced key employee turnover

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AcquisitionWorks, Inc. has developed a number of diagnostic and assessment tools for each phase of the acquisition.  The Customer Validation Survey is designed to be conducted during the due diligence period but may also prove helpful in the early stages of an acquisition.  The Enterprise Integration Assessment is a quick survey using structured interviews to determine the issues facing the organization or to confirm an executive perspective of the issues.  The Progress Audit is generally conducted 6 to 18 months after the transaction has occurred and is a thorough analysis of the status of the integration process.  A Cultural Gap Analysis can be conducted from 6 months to 3 years after an acquisition and usually precedes an effort to shape the cultural dimensions to support the goals of the organization.  Employee and customer focus groups can be conducted at any time during an acquisition and provides factual data to gain a sense of how well changes are being received and understood by the company’s most important constituencies.

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Often an acquisition presents hidden opportunities for strategic advantage as well as intended synergies.  Working with the strategic management team of both the acquirer and acquired company, AcquisitionWorks provides a process that achieves a consensus among this senior team on the priorities, urgencies and milestones for immediate action. 

It’s important to remind ourselves that the reasons that people sell a business are almost always different than the reasons that people buy.  One effect of a good seller’s strategy to optimize the price is an apparently unified goal by both parties at the time of the transaction.  While there is likely to be underlying synergies, this unification can often be a mirage.  Our strategic unity process brings together the potentially diverse goals into one agreed upon set of plans.

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Once the company has achieved a common set of strategic goals and objectives it is important to engage a critical mass of the organization’s leadership in this new direction.  This engagement involves employees from the acquired organization as well as key related organizational leaders from the parent organization.  It refocuses the organization of the important tasks to be accomplished, identifies the critical success factors and builds the momentum necessary to engage the entire organization. 

The organizational engagement phase is a process that involves specific groups events intermixed with team investigation, analysis and action. It typically takes from 45 to 60 days to accomplish and the result is a significant acceleration of the strategic integration process.

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Once the company has established momentum around a common goal set, organizational and individual action plans, it is often useful to review the alignment of systems, business processes, organizational structure and policies to the strategic objectives. 

In the early stages of an acquisition many of these organizational decisions get made but with an eye toward efficiency and speed.  Reviewing these by the key leaders against a background of strategic effectiveness often results in some significant changes in these organizational characteristics.

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One to two years after an acquisition occurs, the strategic goals often need to be revisited and renewed.  At this time, significant experience has been gained with the new organization, changes have likely occurred in the leadership, other acquisitions may have been done by the parent and there has probably been some significant change in the competitive environment. 

Renewing the strategic objectives keeps the organization on a realistic and critical path toward success.  In addition it can renew employee’s commitment and empower new leadership as necessary. 

Ensuring that the strategic objectives within the acquired unit are relevant and appropriate to the overall corporate strategy is always a good idea, but the dynamics of an acquisition usually necessitate this additional step.

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