This case tells you how a company that was soon to be acquired knew exactly how to enable their +20,000 workforce

From Being Acquired to Prepared for the Future

A company with +20.000 employees was in the process of being acquired.

Management recognized that in such a large acquisition, they needed to gain in-depth knowledge about the human side of the organization. Specifically, they needed to understand which employees they needed to retain and activate to get everyone to buy in and take ownership and move in the same direction.

Innovisor was asked to map the informal organizational network structures, and to run simulations on different scenarios. One of the scenarios was to check the impact on the organization if top management would leave the company after the acquisition.

Four insights from the internal network

1. Managers were strongly connected – even when removing top management
The managers had a strong network between them, and simulations showed that the network was almost unchanged when top management – consisting of the top three levels – was removed.

The below network visualizations show the simulation. Even though top management held a central position in the network, no silos or disconnection occurred. Middle and low-level management had built plenty of connections around them to sustain a coherent network between managers.

2. 12 influential managers influenced 93% of the managers
It was a high priority to make sure that managers were aligned and acting as role models for strategic priorities. One powerful tool for achieving this is to work with influential managers who are trusted and liked by other managers. In the analysis, 12 managers were identified as influential managers and together they influenced 93% of all managers.

3. A powerful group of sense-makers
The imminent acquisition would certainly have an impact on the work of many of the employees which had created a vast amount of uncertainty among people in the organization. Therefore, it was crucial to understanding who people in the organization go-to for making sense of what is going on. This led to the assembly of 61 people who were identified as the sense-makers across the whole organization.

4. The 3% key influencers were crucial for reaching all parts of the company
In a situation with much uncertainty, effective communication is crucial, and it was clear that top-down communication alone would not do the job. An effective bottom-up communication channel was needed, and for this purpose, the key influencers were identified. The +600 key influencers were 3% of the employees and they influenced 83% of the whole organization.


Since it was a very hectic situation, the actions needed reflect the time and resources available as well as whether the impact was short-term or long-term. Based on these criteria the following actions were implemented:

  • Firstly, the group of influential managers was engaged with. These managers had the ability to get the rest of the managers aligned with the strategic priorities, which was a necessary step in getting all managers to act as role models. Given that it was only 12 managers, the company was able to engage them in a few days, which was crucial when time and resources were low.
  • Secondly, the group of sense-makers was engaged with. It was key that the size of the group was manageable and that they could have an immediate impact in helping their peers to make sense of the acquisition.
  • Thirdly, the group of key influencers was engaged with. They were the group who needed to be listened to and who needed to be involved in the co-creation of the new company. Since the involvement of the key influencers required a larger effort given the size of the group, the organization waited with this until after the acquisition when they had more time and resources available.

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