Building trust, shaping the future

Two major defence industry companies were preparing to merge. They had a long history of limited cooperation, and their relationship was combative. Each was unaware of how the other functioned. The senior management teams in the two companies were aware of the difficulties and wanted the consensus-building process to be as smooth as possible. They decided to conduct a preparatory pre-merger process with the following aims (in their own words) :

  • to develop mutual respect: “To do away with prejudices, eliminate mistrust and resolve grudges“
  • to get to know each other: “To encourage mutual familiarity with each other“
  • to build together: “To foster the constitution for the long term of the identity of the new company, and improve team performance“.

The approach :

  • Giving each party the means to see things through the other party's eyes and the desire to build a new shared future (with no winner or loser)

Reactions triggered by the approach :

  • A conversation that had previously remained taboo
  • An awareness of the invisible collective methods of functioning
  • An acceptance of the difference and of the loss of one’s own points of reference for the good of the common cause
  • The general feeling that a shared adventure had begun and would be seen through to the end

The results obtained :

The merger kept to the key milestones without encountering barriers and obstructions, with an acceptance of the cultural differences between the two teams, new identity values that engaged all elements of the social fabric, and a deployment plan for the new company that was supported by all.


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