• This is a CEO’s field guide to accelerating the transition in mergers and acquisitions
  • The title comes from a child’s riddle. Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? Answer: five. Why? Because deciding and doing are not the same thing
  • “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but that’s the way to bet.” Damon Runyon
  • The essential message is one of speed and clarity. Once you have decided what to do, do it as fast as possible. This works in many aspects of life, not just M&A. The seven deadly sins in mergers are:

1. Obsessive list making

2. Content-free communications

3. Creating a planning circus

4. Barnyard behaviour (pecking order problems)

5. Preaching vision and values

6. Putting turtles on fence posts (“If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know someone put it there.” Chinese proverb)

7. Rewarding the wrong behaviours


  • Deciding is easy – executing is hard. The book acknowledges this truism
  • The longer you fail to implement something, the easier it is for critics to speak
  • Other people’s best practices work best in other people’s companies
  • Having 260 priorities gets you nowhere. Choose something simple and do it
  • “They failed to execute the most fundamental tactical action of all – allocating resources first to actions with predictably high pay off and success.”
  • “It’s not about strategy. It’s about execution of strategy.”


  • The book is very American and has to be considered in that light
  • The context is management consultants looking at M&A – learning has to be transferred across for general use