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Leading in a post-acquisition environment


Our client recently closed an acquisition of a company larger in size, with largely complementary products and global operations. 

The vision for the acquisition assumed significant operating and market synergies through collaboration and partnership across the precedent organizations.

The top 500 leaders participated in numerous post-acquisition offsites, task forces and leadership meetings that accelerated the development of their working relationships and shared interests.    

The next layer of leaders (VP’s and Directors), however, were primarily the recipients of corporate messaging with little opportunity to interact with peers.

The client challenged Insight Experience to develop a program that would build knowledge, skills and relationships at this level as quickly as possible to support the pace and intent of the acquisition. 



In partnership with the client, Insight identified four important learning “lenses” for the program.

Leaders needed to improve their ability:

  • to “tell the story” of the combined companies;
  • to lead their people through the ambiguity of integration and change;
  • to work across boundaries to deliver value quickly as part of a dramatically larger organization; and
  • to share personal experiences about managing the pace of driving integration while sustaining performance.


Insight designed a two-day learning experience for delivery to over 50 participants per session in a single room to maximize the opportunity for networking and interactions. The program combines three activities to engage and educate participants:   

  • discussion and practice at translating the “acquisition story” into practical, meaningful direction for teams and organizations;  
  • a business simulation that challenges leaders to deliver results that parallel the real-life business demands; and  
  • engaging opportunities to share knowledge about the customers and product offerings of the combined company across the group.  

Throughout the session participants are mixed into multiple unique groups to increase the opportunities for relationship building and networking.


The business simulation poses a series of investment decisions and business challenges in a fictional setting designed to mirror the business environment at the client. Each challenge is based on a real-life example story provided by a SME. As participants experience the challenges in the simulation; make decisions and see their results; and engage in a debrief learning discussion of their choices, the parallels to real life give powerful credibility to the discussion.

Individual teams each take on the role of an individual functional leader and the teams are clustered in groups of three to deliver results of a fictional product franchise. During Round 2, the teams are re-formed. Two members of each functional team participate in a Cross Functional Product Project team to make recommendations for scope and timing for various products in the development portfolio. The product project recommendations have significant implications for each individual function, which participants may or may not realize as they tackle the real-life issues of differing types of risk, investment and skill requirements of different products in a complex portfolio.

The challenge, as in real life, is that full funding and resourcing of all the projects in the portfolio is impossible. So in Round 3, participants return to their functional teams. Integration challenges continue to emerge and require decisions. Participants have to balance their functional demands with their product plans. This round of the simulation is usually chaotic and different franchises take different approaches to the collaboration challenge.

The learning power of the simulation is in the debrief of both the final decisions made, but also the process to reach those decisions. Both the what and the how of this simulation structure are learning opportunities.


Leadership skills 

  • “Great program, wish I had participated earlier. Helped to connect the dots and provided many useful tools” 
  • “This course was well designed and very relevant to our business. It resonated with the priorities I deal with on a day to day basis” 
  • Most valuable part of the program: Communication, I tend to go for brevity, now I understand how to expand on my points. 

Business insight and leadership mindset 

  • “Cross company collaboration enables future growth which cannot be achieved without cross functional input and understanding of the complexity surrounding trade-offs. This program facilitated broad thinking” 
  • Loved the interactive and hands on nature of a simulation; the debrief was as valuable as the exercise itself 
  • The simulation gave a greater appreciation for the tough tradeoffs leaders make in all functions 
  •  This integration presents many challenges; this course allows leaders to focus on what is critical to the success of the company” 


Learn more about our simulations


Amanda Young Hickman is co-founder of Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and experiential learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.