Member Alain Couder Speaks: Wait, Then Make the Call

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought to a recent Alliance meeting by an Alliance CEO whose company had a major acquisition in the works. As a result of the acquisition, the CEO believed that the company needed to change from a functional structure to a business unit structure. In response, here's what Alain Couder, then CEO of Oclaro, a global provider of optical products for the telecommunications market, shared with the Alliance member.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

Before changing the company's organizational structure, I'd wait until the acquisition happens to see how many new players you have on your team.

We have known each other for many years, and I know the history of your company well. I have seen you make great decisions over the years, and this acquisition sounds like another one. But because I have experience doing exactly what you're talking about, I have to ask, are you sure?

You believe that a new organizational structure is the right move. But with an acquisition, you may be bringing in people who are better than the people currently on your team. Of course, it could be the other way around, as well, but you won't know until things are further along.

For example, when my company acquired Avanex three years ago, we acquired many great people, one of whom could have been my replacement. We even discussed some of these issues before the deal was complete. Another thing to consider is that acquisitions take time. There is a lot of back and forth and lots of ups and downs. They don't happen overnight.

As you have shared with us, your leadership team is functioning very well right now. If I were in your shoes, I would wait until the acquisition happens to see how many new players will be on your team and whether you have three major lines of business instead of just two, then make the call.