Will Microsoft + Skype = Cultural Disaster?

May 31, 2011
3 Min Read

Almost every week we hear about some giant company merging with or acquiring an up and coming start up. While this is exciting news -- especially for the owners of the smaller company -- it’s really just a signal of the hard work to come.

Every company has a different organizational culture. Often coined “the company personality,” culture is one of those key factors that contributes to a company’s success. It’s also what attracts a specific type of employee.

What happens when a company like Microsoft, which has become known as a bureaucratic dinosaur in recent years, takes technology leader Skype officially into its rank and file? There’s sure to be some issues between the leaders of these organizations despite the fact that things look rosy from the outside.

In her whitepaper, Mergers, Partnering, Restructuring: Blending Cultures in the New Company, author Peg Neuhauser says there’s a lot of work to do with leaders at all levels. She indicates you can’t expect one weekend retreat to do the job for you. That’s pretty much true for any cultural issue. Her advice is to get people talking -- especially by telling war stories -- which will help you identify underlying values and beliefs that can derail the integration of the companies.

As a leader in an organization that is being acquired or merged with another, you play a key role in making the change successful. First and foremost, it will require frequent, transparent communication with team members at all levels about what’s happening. Without a good communication program, people will naturally make things up to fill the void leaving the organization to fight the “rumor wars” instead of focusing on the primary business objective.

Do you think there will be cultural friction between Microsoft and Skype? Have you been part of a company that merged with or acquired another? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

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