Running a big integration programme? Easy as A, B, C….

March 11, 2021 Dan McDonough

Having recently supported a key pillar of the integration between the London Stock Exchange and Refinitiv, which completed just over a month ago, we reflect on some of the critical aspects that made the programme a success.  Clearly integration activity does not finish on the day that the deal closes and there will doubtless be much left to do to realise the vision and synergies expected from the transaction.  However, solid foundations have been set to harness the combined power of the new organisation. We explore below three key factors in delivering successful integration.


Agility – during an integration, there will be two overarching objectives for the businesses:

  • ensuring the ‘run’ activities supporting business-as-usual operations continue to keep the lights on; and
  • delivering the planning, rehearsing and implementation activity to integrate the businesses, with all the associated legal, regulatory, publicity hurdles safely navigated.

At a high level, the organisation’s mission is likely to be reasonably clear to most of its people in respect of the objectives above, but there is likely to be increased uncertainty and ambiguity for a prolonged period for those people whilst integration activity is underway.  Teams will need to make sure they are agile in how they operate and make decisions in order to pivot between BAU and integration demands and respond to changing priorities. However, too many organisations pin hopes on the ability to be agile without the necessary framework to empower their people or support effective decision making, including ensuring that decisions made are auditable after the fact.


Buy-in – winning hearts and minds across both of the organisations coming together builds a foundation for successful integration.  A mission purpose with a single narrative running through the organisations at all levels helps to ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction, even though there may be cultural or operational differences.  It cannot be a case of “us” and “them” or that one party is being integrated with the other doing the integrating to them, or the focus of the teams involved won’t be in the right place and people will choose their goals tactically rather than in alignment with the mission.   Clarity of communication, backed up by praise and reward specifically for conduct and demonstrating the right behaviours helps to reinforce buy-in.


Collaboration – it may sound cliché, but the ability to work together (which is enabled by the A and B) is fundamental to the success of any integration. Psychologists highlight the universal human need to belong to groups, but also that people are not always predisposed to working well with each other. Individual interests often sabotage team spirit. People’s competitive instincts end up finding targets in fellow team members.


There may be regulatory or legal constraints over exactly what can be done to get the teams working together pre-integration, but fostering effective collaboration including the tone set from the top and clarity of the purpose and overarching mission will certainly help set the combined organisation up for success beyond completion of the transaction.


Make no mistake: integration is a stretch or your existing capability and capacity and can lead to both organisations operating in a stressed scenario for a prolonged length of time.  Come and talk to us about how our MECCAR framework can make order out of chaos and support you through start-up to scale-up, integration, transformation or just to help repurpose and refine your business.


Mission Purposing organisations and projects with unifying intent, so all team members are Empowered through effective Communication formats, Collaborative techniques cutting through silos, and using Agile Decision-making processes; harnessing diversity of thought, permission to challenge and facilitating appropriate pivots when circumstances change. Underpinned by codified leadership to deliver the Right Behaviours and reinforce culture.

Our Values:

Accountability, Action Orientation, Agility and Decency