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The ThirdWave Process

Read about our methodology and how it can work to increase the value of an acquisition.


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70/70 Rule

"70% of acquisitions fail.  70% of failures are the result of an inability to integrate successfully."

Jack Prouty, Partner
Step-Change Management, LLC



ThirdWave Integration™

ThirdWave Integration is a methodology developed by AcquisitionWorks that engages, aligns and mobilizes affected employees to the strategic intent of the merger or acquisition.  (Download our white paper.)

It’s a Process

Integrating a company after a merger is a process that can take years and we can help at each stage of this process.  Our focus is on strategically aligning the new workforce to the intended goals of the acquisition.  Our programs engage the key employees in operationalizing the strategic initiatives.  In this process, employees are refocused, new leadership identified, management is empowered, and employees re-committed.

It’s an Event

Or a series of events.  Events that bring the right set of people together at once to clarify actions, identify obstacles, define critical success factors, and reach a consensus of agreement. 

Why an Event?

We have found these events to be the quickest way to establish clarity and consensus among a critical mass of key employees.  These events quickly achieve common ground and a broad understanding of the strategic intent.  We also find that engaging people in the process is the best way to help them reevaluate their new situation, the expectations the company has for them and their importance to achieving the goals of the organization.  In short, this engagement reconnects people to their jobs – renegotiating their employment contract and overcoming the “careers without consent” that occur in every acquisition.  Further, cross organizational events, jump starts the beginning of trust and the building of cross organizational teams.

Why a Series of Events?

Because integration is a process.  It begins with a common understanding of the strategic objectives, then moves through the organization as operational plans, and concludes in integrated individual action plans.  Our programs are scaled to the size of each organization but are designed to achieve sufficient momentum to encompass the entire organization.  We work in tandem with your management team, providing them with the tools and programs to accomplish this quickly.  And our consultants will provide additional advice to your managers, as needed, on how to overcome the hidden dynamics of acquisitions that can hinder progress. 

Why an External Consultant?

We are skilled at running large meeting events, providing a meeting process that achieves consensus on the contentious issues at each stage of the integration process.  We have no internal agenda and our objectivity allows full participation of all members in an open trusting environment.  All of the professionals at AcquisitionWorks have significant experience in acquisitions.  We understand the issues of remote management, cultural dissonance, and the many anti-synergies that are inevitable with an acquisition.  We accelerate the effectiveness of your normal management processes. 

ThirdWave Integration™ Explained

The first two waves of the integration process include the Shock Wave and the Organizational Integration Wave.  The Shock Wave represents the first few days or weeks after the deal is closed, when the acquiring company needs to address the basic questions employees of the acquired company have including: do I have a job?; do I have a new boss?; do I have to move?; what will change about my pay and benefits?; etc.  The Organizational Integration Wave is the process of integrating the organization’s structures, processes, policies and systems.  Usually companies plan this effort during the period prior to the close and immediately after the close form integration teams to assess and execute on this phase of the integration process.

Often there is a failure to integrate and engage key employees in the implications of the new strategic direction brought about as a result of the acquisition.  The continually high failure rates (see Acquisition Studies) would imply normal management practices are not sufficient to refocus, engage and commit employees to the new organization’s goals.  This is due, in part, because there is often a limited time frame in which to accomplish this before the negative forces or anti-synergies of normal acquisitions take hold of the acquired organization and begin a downward spiral which results in a loss of motivation, productivity, cooperation, and key personnel. 

While each acquisition is unique, the problems of integration often include: remote operating groups, political self interest, geographically split development teams, unique cultural attributes, differing goals, conquering mentalities, and especially a loss of focus on the customer.  In addition, the acquired employees have been placed in “careers without consent”.  In short, we believe that successful integration of acquisitions requires awareness and skillful management of a unique set of dynamics beyond the integration of benefits and operations – that the unique experience of an acquisition is complex and requires extra-ordinary effort and expertise to achieve success. 

AcquisitionWorks, Inc. offers a set of structured, scalable and repeatable products that accelerates the ThirdWave Integration.  These programs renew the strategic intent and engage key employees in understanding the implications of the new strategic direction to their jobs and departments. 

A Word About Confidentiality ...

As specialists in mergers and acquisitions consulting we appreciate the need for confidentiality and we will maintain the highest level of professionalism.  We can provide a standard Non-Disclosure Agreement or you may choose to use your own.


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