Book Reviews: Avoiding the M&A Failure Club

“A number of years ago I led the organisational transformation of two newly acquired companies into one business unit. The experience was both incredibly exhilarating and stressful, and ultimately the most rewarding two years of my career. Embedded in my mind is the emotional toll it took on many of the leaders and team members as we worked through the transition. Your book outlines very real situations, that I personally relate to, and provides very useful advice and tools to help deal with the ultimate leadership challenge – a merger or acquisition.”


Shelley Thomson

former Business Manager Philips Healthcare.

“When reading your book Avoiding the M&A Failure Club, I connected immediately with the importance of a focus on culture for all types of businesses, whether undergoing a merger or simply seeking to increase their commercial advantage.

I enjoyed the case studies, each of which were key to demonstrating the message, particularly in relation to the importance of M&A targets being compatible – again a reference to the human influence on success.

The Five Phases of Change were a great reference tool, much as I find ADKAR to be a quick and fool-proof guide for delivering change within an established organisation.
There were many highlights, all presented in an easy format to understand and to relate to in my own context, such as Accountability being the most highly desired value of an organisation as judged by employees. Gold!
Thank you Linley for sharing your knowledge and for encouraging business people to always consider the impact of culture when making strategic business decisions.”


Alison Wallace

Head of Contact Centres, AMP Financial Services

“I have really enjoyed your book, Avoiding the M&A Failure Club, and have utilised much of the guidance contained within it. It is equally relevant to implementing cultural change in an existing company as it is to a M&A activity. Thank you.”


Peter Fromont

Chief Financial Officer

I have known Linley for many years and was aware that a book on people and culture was to be written, so it was with anticipation that I read “Avoiding The M&A Failure Club”. I was certainly not disappointed with the insights and lessons she shares.

I have been fortunate enough to have been the leader of a large Australasian company within the printing sector. As most would recognise the printing sector has been significantly impacted by technology convergence over the last 20 years. A response to these industry challenges saw many mergers and acquisitions and as such I led a number of such initiatives.

Linley is on the money with her book, unfortunately M&A projects are pursued only when the synergistic benefits can be assessed to be attractive in financial terms. As referenced in the book synergy savings are often driven by people and property with boards and or decision making bodies assuming the CEO and team will get this bit right. Discussions around culture, people fit and change management risks are considered to be “soft” and to be left to HR, but experience proves these are critical to success for any leader.

Linley’s book reminds us that influencing a change in culture is never achieved in a few months, it is a long term continuous process that must be the mantra of those at the top and directed by a clear vision about what the organisation represents internally and externally.

I recommend the book to be essential reading for leaders who are anticipating any M&A activity. I would also recommend that anybody stepping up to a CEO role or assessing such a role in a new business, read this book, you will surely pick up some very useful insights that may very well prove critical to your long term success.


Richard Taylor

C-level Executive and Director

“Linley Watson’s Avoiding the M&A Failure Club was an easy read. A succinct and insightful account of the often underestimated key cultural aspects of human behaviour that will make or break a merger of organisations, while covering quite a range of circumstances. Though my experience with M&A has focused more on the industrial and resources sectors, it is remarkable how similar the observations of culture, methodology, timeline and outcomes are; whether for leaders, staff or customers. I found myself thinking of similar examples for important points made throughout the book. An essential read for directors and executives wanting to assure a successful model for M&A transactions, from diligence through to post-merger integration and validation.”


Bruce Christopher

GAICD, CP Eng, Managing Director, Board Director and Advisor (M&A and Turnaround)

This book is a welcoming and enjoyable read on the people and culture side of M&A. As is so often the case, M&A deals are primarily driven by financial, legal and sometimes technological concerns. The people side of the equation is not given the same level of focus, unfortunately!

This is why organisations find themselves unwittingly joining the M&A Failure Club! Even a cursory look at surveys conducted by consulting and accounting firms around the world on M&A deal success all point to one thing in common: the perils of ignoring the people side of M&A.

So, it’s refreshing to read this book, with its anecdotes and stories, on the rich insights Linley has to offer on the topic. The book offers sound practical advice to business leaders, as well as some useful models on culture change.

I recommend it to anyone who’s currently or will be involved in a merger of some kind, and would like to stay out the M&A failure club!


Toby Tester

Partner, Mergerware.

Just read the latest book by Linley Watson “Avoiding the M&A failure club (What the numbers don’t reveal”. Loved her insights and knowledge, the effects of culture and communication on M&A integration and the true cost of leaving it to coincidence. Even though she operates at the other end of this planet, what she has run into over time as a professional in her field, is quite universal. And it underlines exactly why I love what I do.


Astrid van Wanum

Business Owner

l found your publication “Avoiding the M&A failure club” to be a very succinct “easy to read” reflection of all the pitfalls and rookie errors that acquiring organisations repeat time after time. In particular, the various examples cited resonated with some of my own personal experiences and the recommendations you afford the reader are well articulated.


Richard Giles

General Manager

Linley shares her learnings about the financial impact and risks associated with the all too often cultural clash that happens as a part of M&A decisions in a candid and insightful way.

As a HR Executive, who has often faced the challenge of integrating businesses post merger or acquisition, Linley’s book clearly articulates the need for HR’s involvement early on in the deal making process to ensure all the people risks are identified and mitigated from the get go.
This book is a great read for Finance Directors, CEO’s and their executive teams. It really puts a spotlight on the commercial value that HR can bring to organisations and shareholders in times of change.


Leesa Tongoulidis

HR Executive

Book Review Avoiding the M&A Failure Club

Everything looked good on paper, we had complimentary capabilities and we thought we were clear on what both parties brought to the table; we even compared personal and organisational values. It looked like a great fit. Then reality set it…

>>Click here to read the full review


Paul M Southwick CA

Editor, Spark Magazine

Avoiding Failure – Safeguard Your Reputation

This is about culture and change, critical often forgotten components in the equation of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A). Too often or should I say, all the time, the focus is on the Profit, rather than the People.

Please don’t stop reading this little book review if you’re not involved in M&As – whilst this book targets this market, it’s a useful handbook reminding you (or educating you) of the importance of incorporating people into any thinking or planning if you have any type of change on your mind about/for your organisation.

>>Click here to read the full review


Louise Thomson

Leadership Development Specialist

I passed on the copy of your M&A book to a TEC member who was going through an overseas directed amalgamation. It had some very valuable content for her, thank you!


Nigel A Stoke

Chairman and Director, The Executive Connection