Learning for Cultural Integration

According to a 1999 study of global mergers & acquisitions by KPMG, organizations that focused on the three 'soft keys' to success - including people, culture and communication - were significantly more likely to succeed in creating shareholder value. Those organizations that focused on resolving cultural issues increased their chances by a massive 26%.

Learning for cultural integration means identifying, understanding and accepting key cultural differences, building trust, relationships and cooperation and generating real synergies through diverse thinking based on common business objectives. The cultural integration process consists of four phases (discovery, design, delivery and review). Our integrated approach is aligned with and drives the business and strategic integration process.

Discovery - The Cultural Audit

The discovery phase includes an initial cultural audit. If conditions allow, this audit can even be carried out in the pre-merger due diligence as part of a risk analysis. The audit involves comparing both partners' perceptions of key elements of their corporate cultures. The results of the audit can indicate potential conflicts which can then be more effectively addressed in the delivery phase and can help to target time and resources more effectively.

Some preferred diagnostic tools that we use for cultural audits include the Organizational Thinking Inventory, a customized application of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument HBDI which helps us to identify shared mindsets and perceived differences and the Cultural Transformation Tools CTT from the Barrett Values Centre which provide a highly effective way of conducting a corporate values assessment.


When implementing change we work at the organizational, group and individual level. The 'whole system' approach to cultural integration informs us that no matter where we focus, there will always be an impact on the rest of the system. We need to ensure that the multiple levels of the learning intervention are aligned and constantly reinforce rather than undermine each other.


The delivery phase generally consists of three key interventions based on the unfreeze-change-freeze model proposed by Kurt Lewin. The first intervention consists of mono-cultural programs with the key stakeholders from both organizations. These workshops encourage the participants to examine the shared values and mindsets existing within their own national, corporate and business cultures. Becoming aware of how our own cultural backgrounds have shaped our thinking, emotions, attitudes and patterns of behaviour to date is a prerequisite to letting go.

The second intervention consists of group and team workshops which encourage the participants to engage in dialog with their new colleagues, build relationships and trust, identify and deal with any emerging conflicts and start working towards common goals.

The third self-directed intervention consists of 1-1 peer coaching tandems with stakeholders from each organisation. These tandems provide ongoing support as people move forward and adapt new values, mindsets and behaviours. They usually remain in place for 6-12 months as part of your relationship management process.


In addition to evaluating the impact of the learning on your business results through relevant and agreed KPIs, we encourage our clients to conduct a perception gathering process with the Organizational Barometer. This diagnostic tool based on the Four Rooms of Change provides a real-time review of the organization's current thinking around change, need for change and change readiness. It identifies further action that may need to be taken to sustain the cultural and business integration process. This can include further alignment of structures, processes and systems - such as rewards, reporting lines or appraisal instruments - with the newly emerging and shared corporate values and mindsets.

For more information contact us