It's easy to lose impetus when your business is acquired - here's how to keep the creative spark alive.
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A strong capacity for innovation is fundamental to any organisation’s growth strategy. From devising ground-breaking ideas or products to discovering new market segments, creative thinking is often what enables companies to retain a competitive edge.
More than just a buzzword, innovation has the power to transform even the oldest and most traditional companies, keeping them fresh and agile. It’s a quality that both customers and employees are growing to expect in the companies that they engage with or are employed by.
Fresh ideas and approaches shown through the development and adoption of new operating techniques and services indicate that companies have something new to offer and are adaptable – a growing demand as millennials move into the forefront of business, bringing with them new consumer behaviour and employee expectations.
For companies that are looking to grow, acquisitions don’t only offer access to new geographies, market segments, technologies and skills, they are also an excellent way to drive innovation. Bringing together workforces and enhancing one company with the resources of another, provides new opportunities for creative collaboration.
Indeed, acquisitions have been a key factor in Maru Group’s development. The addition of new companies into the Group has created natural synergies across our products and services, that have benefitted both the company and our customers.
However, acquisitions often lead to a period of disruption for both parties; business processes will need to be integrated and structures reorganised. The creation of new partnerships can often understandably draw attention away from innovation, as the priorities of management are to ensure that their clients do not experience any disruption.
Acquisitions are about more than just tying up loose ends
Therefore, a key question for businesses looking to grow through acquisition is how can they ensure that crucial innovative processes are not hindered or lost during the process?
It is a question we continually address at Maru, where innovation and growth through acquisition are the central components of our business model. Since the foundation of the Group in 2016, we have brought on board four dynamic and exciting companies, each bringing with them unique, cutting-edge technologies and talented teams.
The purpose of our business model is to foster innovation and drive development within our industry, but in order for it to work, it is vital that all of Maru’s portfolio are encouraged and enabled to retain their individual identities and drive.
So how can you ensure that an acquisitive growth strategy does not disrupt or kill creativity? I have put together four key pieces of advice for executives seeking to build their companies through acquisition.
1. Protect the company’s culture
You can only foster a culture of innovation within a business if the overall corporate culture is positive, and strong. Employees need to feel happy and supported in order to work well as a team coming up with new ideas which can be put into practice.
It is therefore crucial that employees are supported through the acquisition process and that the company they love and have committed to working to isn’t too drastically changed following its takeover.
At Maru, we have done this by ensuring that new companies brought into the Group retain their own individual brands and identities post acquisition. A certain amount of change is inevitable during the M&A process, but a stable company culture should remain a priority.
2. Empower key innovators by building effective teams
There will be people within a company that have a flair for innovation, but they won’t always be the ones who shout their ideas the loudest. Therefore, to identify and retain key people post acquisition, it is crucial to build a team in which such people can thrive and feel empowered to bring forward their ideas.
People with the biggest ideas don't always shout the loudest
3. Reward both success and failure
Your team will only be inspired to try new ideas if they feel supported in taking risks and bringing original concepts to the table. Whilst you shouldn’t set out to reward failure, praising employees for a genuine and well thought through attempt at implementing a new idea, whatever the outcome, will only encourage others to do the same.
The period immediately following an acquisition can already feel disruptive and it may therefore feel at odds to encourage people to take creative risks. But doing so will show that there is a genuine culture of innovation at the company and will inspire others to bring their ideas forward.
4. Maintain investment
Be it capital or time, the development of innovative ideas and strategies requires investment from management. Post acquisition is a busy time and it may feel like you have too many plates already spinning to even consider innovation.
But just one meeting a fortnight to discuss the development of ideas will go a long way in encouraging your workforce to make it a priority.
The most valuable resource any company needs to drive innovation forward is a happy, inspired and supported team of employees. By providing workers with the adequate resources and support, management will be able to alleviate any disruption caused by the acquisition process and ensure the continuation of innovation continues to thrive within their companies.