Imagine you’re in the midst of a massive overhaul of your company’s digital ecosystem—working furiously with your organization to modernize, rationalize, digitize and integrate networks, systems, applications and platforms—when you walk into the office one day and … wait for it … your parent company announces plans for one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of aerospace. And they are merging that company with your organization.
This was the situation my colleagues were facing with the September 2017 announcement of the planned merger between UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins.
While the news was exciting and would position the new Collins Aerospace among the top players in the aerospace and defense industry, the Digital Technology team couldn’t help but think about the huge implications. What was already a daunting challenge was now a daunting challenge X 2.
When I was named to lead the Digital Technology organization at the new company, I’ll admit I was awed by the scope of the initiative and what was to come. I reminded myself of that old adage about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
Having previous experience with corporate mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations and restructurings, I know how potentially disruptive these kinds of events can be. But I have also come to appreciate what it takes to help lead through a major digital transformation and achieve successful outcomes.
Here are three key guiding principles I always try to follow:
No. 1: Prioritize Teamwork, Collaboration and Communications
Without going into our whole business landscape and family tree, essentially our team is working to bring together four heritage cultures comprised of different systems, processes and strategies. But we’re doing far more than that. As we work toward this large-scale integration, our teams are getting to know each other and learning from one another—both personally and professionally. They’re suggesting ways to modernize, finding efficiencies and developing new and innovative solutions for our customers. We’re seeing benefits far beyond just getting everyone on the same network. The collaboration itself is driving digital innovation.
And nothing facilitates teamwork and collaboration more than open, honest and frequent communications. Partnering with our colleagues in Communications and Human Resources, we’ve been working tirelessly to keep our people fully informed every step of the way.