Sloan Management Review: Can you give me a brief description of how John Hancock has been digitizing its marketing operations and the organization as a whole?
Barbara Goose: Ultimately, customers drive change in companies, and good companies listen to their customers. Today, customers want to have much more control. More than half of people with the means to hire a financial adviser do not and are therefore looking to manage their money on their own. Our company is working to respond and get aligned to what customers are asking for, both in the kinds of products they want and in how they want to interact with the company.
What challenges have you faced in making this shift in the organization?
There are several challenges. First, it’s hard to drive change when people feel that the company has been successful doing everything the way it always has. People don’t see the need for change when we still have returns coming in and a stable customer base.
Eventually, people do understand the need for change. In looking toward the future, they can see that the world and customer needs are changing. Even with that recognition, however, there are legacy systems in place, and many employees still need training to learn new skills. We need to evolve and experience a revolution to get to a very different place as fast as we can, but it’s hard to do that quickly in such a big company.
What are some of the most successful strategies you have used in driving this revolution?
I was brought in by John Hancock as a change agent about a year ago, and bringing in people who have different backgrounds and a variety of different skill sets helps to see different opportunities and figure out how to carve that path forward. We got started in the direct-consumer advice space by making an acquisition, which gave us a head start and brought in new technology and team members who think very differently about the opportunity set.
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How have you found the assimilation process of these new employees who have a different way of thinking?
It works best when you can bring in people who not only have a certain skill set but also the right attitude.