The Merger Mindset: How to Get It Right in the High-Stakes World of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures

By Constance Dierickx, Linda Henman

The Merger Mindset offers a unique perspective for leaders-those executives whose companies, reputations, and futures will thrive or fail because of a deal or a series of deals. This book for leaders helps decision-makers deal with the powerful undercurrents and interpersonal dynamics at play in every deal, and no one is more qualified to write it than Constance Dierickx and Linda Henman.

Other books on mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures overwhelmingly have one characteristic in common: they're technical. Attorneys write books about the legal and contractual aspects of deals; project management experts write from the point of view of managing tasks and schedules; and investment bankers write about valuation and negotiation. The Merger Mindset presents an amalgamation of what Drs. Dierickx and Henman have observed-and in many cases, helped to create-in more than 65 cumulative years of consulting with Fortune 500 companies, privately-held firms, family-owned businesses, and military organizations. Their in-the-trenches experiences spurred them to arrive at this premise: To position their organizations for more success, leaders can't shy away from the high stakes, tough decisions about their futures.

This book maps the key steps in the M & A journey. It takes the reader through how to make the decision to grow acquisitively, identify roadblocks and typical wrong turns, and ultimately shows how to unlock their decision-making potential while navigating an increasingly uncertain world. Through compelling stories and surprising research findings, readers will discover that there's much more to the decision-making that drives M & A deals than they ever imagined, and they will come away with tools to help them deepen their understanding of what it takes to succeed. A fascinating read, the text weaves lessons that surface from the stories with highly pragmatic advice about suggested mindset, checklists, processes, and diagnostic tools. Readers will understand that while M & A deals aren't simple, leaders don't have to overly complicate them either. Instead, they can simplify the process if they remember hope shouldn't serve as a strategy, and they can't abdicate or delegate their leadership responsibilities.

The lessons from mergers and acquisitions are critical to those considering a deal, but applied elsewhere, they have equal value, even though noticing them takes more effort. This is the essence of leadership: doing the hard work of ensuring that the gulf between strategy and tactics does not lead to either over simplification or needless complexity.


Since taking the helm at Belden in 2005, I have overseen 15 major acquisitions. Through trial and error, I learned the lessons Drs. Henman and Dierickx have taught in this book. Senior leaders who don't have more than a decade to learn these lessons should read and heed the advice from these two psychologists.

  • John Stroup, Belden Chairman and CEO

Too few people understand the psychology behind buying and selling companies, but Drs. Henman and Dierickx, do. They don't explain the technicalities of deal. Instead, they concentrate on what must happen in the minds of decision-makers to ensure success for all concerned.

  • Kevin Short, Chief Executive Officer, Clayton Capital Partners; Author, Sell Your Business for an Outrageous Price: An Insider's Guide to Getting More Than You Ever Thought Possible

Study after study puts strategic risk above all other enterprise risks combined, and M&A transactions are a key component of strategic risk. From cognitive biases to culture and talent, The Merger Mindset shows the reader how to avoid common pitfalls and focus on key success drivers. In a masterful way, Dierickx and Henman share their words of wisdom with practical case studies, interesting anecdotes, and amusing quotes.

  • James Lam, Author, Implementing Enterprise Risk Management; Chairman, Risk Oversight Committee, E*TRADE Financial; Independent Director, RiskLens, Inc.

We talk about "the art of the deal" as though it's a Faustian bargain, a Mephistophelian dance with the devil. And small wonder--most deals fail to meet expectations, and many fail, period. Chrysler and Mercedes once "merged" though Mercedes actually swallowed Chrysler, and everyone lost money. We need to study the art and science of the deal, and Dr. Henman and Dr. Dierickx are the experts in that realm. Don't read about how deals are made. Read herein when and why they're successful. The devil is actually in the details.

  • Alan Weiss, PhD, author, Million Dollar Consulting and over 60 other works in 15 languages

Mergers and acquisitions are some of the most high-stakes events in a leader's career. To see around corners and avoid hidden pitfalls, you want experts on your side - and you can't do better than Drs. Constance Dierickx and Linda Henman. Their deep expertise will dramatically increase your chances of success.

  • Dorie Clark, adjunct professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business; Author, Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out

Mergers and acquisitions are major events in the life of an organization. I have come to appreciate that while the technical aspects, such as valuation and contracting are vital, they are insufficient. In The Merger Mindset, Dr. Dierickx and Dr. Henman articulate what it takes to make deals work-a holistic view and tolerance for ambiguity. Too often leaders look for a blueprint when what they need is the right mindset.

  • Steve McElhiney, Chief Executive Officer, EWI Re, Inc. 

Mergers and acquisitions are often viewed through the lens of valuation and terms of the deal. Yet, whether a deal succeeds has as much to do with what is unknown and as what is disclosed or revealed in the process. Uncovering the organizational dynamics, leadership habits and unconscious assumptions of even the best-intended people requires more than a plan. The Merger Mindset describes these dynamics and what to do to reduce the risks inherent in deals.

  • Patrick Brennan, Senior Vice President - Operations, Cox Automotive

Constance and Linda have done a masterful job at both, sketching a broad framework and providing indispensable detail on every crucial element required for M&A success. Whether you are new to the world of M&A or a seasoned veteran, Constance and Linda's insight will keep you out of the ditches and between the guardrails.

  • Gregory Kozicz Ph.D., President and CEO, Alberici Corporation


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About the Hardcover

Publisher Not available
Publish date 12/05/2018
Pages 214
ISBN-13 9781138481824
ISBN-10 1138481823
Language English

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