Speak of the Devil

In OOPS! , mergers and acquisitions is one of the 13 management practices that waste time and money. In a Business Week article, Drug Mergers: Killers for Research by Catherine Arnst she quotes Dr. Joseph Schlessinger, Department Head of Yale’s School of medicine who sold his company to Pharmacia in 1999. Arnst quotes him, “Until the merger is completed, everyone in the labs of Wyeth and Pfizer and Merck and Schering-Plough will stop doing anything except talking about ‘what is going to happen to me?’ They are going to stop producing for a long, long time,” he says.

This is the classic problem that I wrote about in the book. How much will it cost these companies to have professional researchers sitting on their hands for a day, a week, a month? If they are talking about what might happen in the future rather than concentrating on their research, who else in the company will be affected? Eventually, most. You can bet that the competition is not sitting on their hands.

When preparations are made for the changes in behavioral consequences that the employees will face as result of the merger and the additional behavioral requirements brought on by the changes, the companies need not miss a lick. The problem is that almost no one does it because behavior is usually a low priority when it should be number one.

Merck and Schering-Plough did not decide to do this merger yesterday. It has probably been in the works for months at the least. Why could they not have made decisions that would excite the researchers in the merged company even before the merger was announced? It can be done. It should be done. When it is not done, millions of dollars and valuable time are wasted.

Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.