Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things we do not teach in our M&A class

Today's NYT reports the complications that Delta execs have had to manage as they worked through the merger with Northwest.  Of course the deal had to be evaluated up front in terms of synergies and overlaps in assets and route structure, which lends itself somewhat well to the financial and strategic tools we teach in the Jenkins MBA.  But the article is a real eye-opener as it details how every aspect of the operation of each airline had to be re-evaluated as the two airlines became one.  Some of the highlights: should limes be cut into 10 or 16 pieces?  Coke or Pepsi?  Pour the beverage into a cup first or simply hand the passenger the can and an empty cup?  Ring the cabin bell two or four times before landing?

These issues matter because of the importance of making the customer experience as uniform as possible.  Each airline had its own brand and brand personality before the merger.  Great companies sweat the details.  As a business school, we need to do a better job of preparing our students to have this mindset. 

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