Why Disagreeing With Your M&A Team Is Good

You may be surprised I’m saying this, but vigorous arguments in your acquisition team can be a good thing. In fact, I would be alarmed if there was never any disagreement over a prospective purchase. Either someone is lying or afraid to speak up, unless your entire team is quite exceptionally in sync.

Dissent can be uncomfortable, so it’s understandable that people tend to shy away from it. That’s why my firm has developed tools to manage these differences of opinion in a non-threatening manner.

One of the tools where we see this best played out is the Prospect Prioritization Matrix. Using objective metrics, each team member will individually rank a criterion for a prospective acquisition from 1-10. Once everyone has ranked the target company, we compare the matrices and see where there may be differences.

With this approach, you create the opportunity for a healthy, deep discussion about the company in question. Why did Susan give the company a 5 on technology while Jack gave in a 10? It’s not that one person is wrong or right; what you have now is the basis for further analysis.

The Prospect Prioritization Matrix rates companies according to criteria that you establish early in the acquisition search. But those criteria may need refining. One value of using the tool is that it makes that refinement possible. As you evaluate more and more companies, you find you’re gaining a clearer understanding of what you actually want from a deal.

One of the advantages of creating an acquisition team — an essential component of our Roadmap methodology — is the wide variety of perspectives and ideas it provides. Don’t shy away from conflicting views – you’ll be a stronger company for having these conversations, and you’ll increase your likelihood of acquisition success.

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