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Change leadership: Have you ever launched a Hate campaign?

Vernon Hill, Commerce Bank's founder and former CEO, pioneered a NEW style of retail banking that relies on service rather than interest rates to attract customers and deposits. Talking to new managers, Vernon said "We're asking you to FORGET the way you delivered your skills at other banks."
When introducing something new, how do we make our stakeholder groups forget the old? Typically, we use a "love-the-new" campaign that talks about the NEW's nice things. Many years ago, when my COE moved from a traditional user-centric practice to a business process centric practice, I did not stop with a LOVE campaign. I also used a HATE campaign -- a "hate-the-old" campaign. The campaign comprised many items, but here's one example . . .
I got some of the practitioners to do a literature study on traditional approaches. The researchers could see for themselves how inadequate existing approaches were in meeting enterprise needs. They also presented the findings to the entire team and to other stakeholder groups.
At Columbia Business School's Leading Strategic Growth & Change program, professor Rita McGrath presented an analysis of delay and resistance. I took this program in 2008 -- after I had led a Change initiative at my former employer. I could therefore relate to the internal and external barriers the professor talked about. Leading Change is unlike leading status quo. But it has to be done where there is conviction. And in some situations, we need to look for new ways to push our Change efforts -- including a Hate campaign!

Have you introduced something new in your organization? How did you deal with the challenge of resistance to Change?


  1. Hi Henry,

    Really appreciate your article. Many a times, we are asked to change, adapt and accept the process change...sometimes without any reasoning.

    When the employees resist, the leaders call it an organizational challenge and say employees are not adaptable to change.

    There are very few leaders who launch the "HATE" campaign..your article clearly highlights the importance of it and I could relate to it too..

    Once again, you are right!



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