What an interesting problem M&A represents because it is the consummate assumption validation scenario. Even if the target company cooperates you can never have total access and the full picture until AFTER the transaction closes. By then the pressure is on the show results from the merger. It seems like almost a lean-startup scenario in many ways. We start with a set of decision criteria, then begin adding assumptions about what is true pertaining to the new company and how well that fits. Then we are validating assumptions as quickly as possible to either rule out the target or move to the next level of decisions. The process doesn’t stop after closing, it only becomes more pressurized and with actual data – it seems you are still verifying assumptions and eventually you have eliminated all the false ones and now have a clear picture of what you’re up against.