Tag Archives: Terry Jones

Chandler Innovation Center

How is Innovation Like Baseball?

“In baseball, you can fail 70 percent of the time and still be considered a strong player,”  says Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com and founding CEO of its competitor, Kayak.com.

“Why is it that businesses give an employee with a new idea just one chance?” asks the author of “On Innovation,” (www.jonesoninnovation.com), a new book filled with 72 deceptively simple ideas for stimulating innovation.

Pitchers lose games, batters strike out, fielders make errors. Instead of firing them or sending them back to the minor leagues, managers study what went wrong. CEOs need to do the same thing, Jones says.

“Kill the project, not the person,” he says. “Instead of telling Bob, ‘You’re done,’ they should tell Bob, ‘The project’s dead. What do you want to do next?”

To succeed today, businesses absolutely must be innovative, and they can’t be if they’re unwilling to have some failures, Jones says.

“Too many companies punish failure and fail to adequately reward success. How does that motivate the employees with great new ideas?”

Jones suggests these other baseball analogies that will help any business score on innovation:

• Most games are won with singles and doubles. Home runs are great. They are that 10 percent of innovation that is transformational, exciting, and extremely rewarding. But the 70 percent of innovation that involves improving core products, and the 20 percent that represents adjacent changes — pulling together existing innovations in a new way, like the iPhone – are the singles and doubles that can win games.

• Know that your home-run hitters will strike out a few times. The people coming up with the radical new ideas that account for big, transformative innovation aren’t going to hit a home run every time – and neither did Babe Ruth. In fact, Babe Ruth had more strike-outs than home runs. While radical successes, like Dyson using its vacuum technology to create restroom hand-dryers, account for only 10 percent of innovation, they produce about 70 percent of a company’s future revenue. So allow your home-run hitters their swings and misses.

• Watch the game tapes. Sports teams fanatically analyze every aspect of losing games with the same process and vigor they use for winning ones. The Federal Aviation Authority has a painstaking process for analyzing every airline incident and crash. As a result, its safety record gets better every year. Look for solutions when something goes wrong — not where to lay the blame. Inspect the process, find the defect, and strategize how to make it better. (Note: If the same people keep making the same mistakes, arrange for training, counseling or, if that fails, a bus ticket out of town.)

Innovation is about responding to needs instead of trying to dictate them, Jones says. Companies need to listen to their customer service complaints: What are customers saying that can help improve your product or process? And they need to talk about the crazy ideas — including those that seem too simple to succeed.

“Proctor & Gamble made diapers and cleaning products,” Jones notes. “Someone suggested putting a diaper on a mop handle and voila! The Swifter!”

Chandler Innovation Center

How to Turn Company Into Innovation Machine

The world’s future leaders overwhelmingly believe that today’s businesses can grow only if they can innovate – and that today’s business leaders aren’t demonstrating they’re up to the task.

While that’s the thinking of nearly 5,000millennials – the 20- to 33-year-old generation – at least one baby boomer, the innovator who transformed the U.S. travel industry with his creation of Travelocity and Kayak.com, agrees.

“The future for any business today depends entirely on its ability to innovate, and the youngest adults, ‘the idea generation,’ know that,” says Terry Jones, author of “On Innovation,” (www.tbjones.com/terrys-book), a light-hearted but practical guide for fostering and innovation.

“The millennials are the group known for pioneering new ideas, rethinking processes, end-running hierarchies and solving problems by doing what simply makes sense to them. We need to listen to them; they’re the innovators!”

But the worldwide survey of adults born after 1982 found that only 26 percent believe their bosses are doing enough to encourage innovation. The study by Deloitte ToucheTohmatsu Limited, publishedin January, reported 78 percent believe innovation is crucial for growing businesses.

Jones says there are some definite steps business leaders can and should take to ensure their company is hearing employees’ ideas, recognizingopportunities, and ensuring a clear path to execution.

1. Build a culture of experimentation. Not every project will succeed but you can’t learn from mistakes if you don’t allow them to happen. The corollary: Always analyze what went wrong. Why didn’t it work? To use a sports analogy, watch the “game films” to improve and learn as much from failure as you do from success. One fast and easy way to experiment is to test options out online. Whether it’s polling customers, measuring which approach gets the best response, or allowing a segment of your customer base to test drive a new tool, the results can be invaluable..

2. Kill projects not people. In many companies, people stop offering up ideas and volunteering for projects because the punishment for failure is greater than the reward for success. Lunch with the boss or a $100 bonus do not compensate for the risk of being demoted or fired, or suffering a tarnished reputation. When a project fails in a company with a culture of experimentation, the first thing you shoulddo is say, “Bob, what would you like to work on now?!”

3. Break thru the “Bozone layer.” Some of the greatest ideas for innovation will come from the employees on the front lines – those in direct contact with customers or production. But their ideas will never float up to the executive suite if you’ve created a “Bozone layer” by making it too risky for middle managers to experiment. (See No. 2.) While you’re turning the culture around, find ways to reach down to the front lines to solicit  ideas. Implement them and reward the contributors with a big, public shout out – which will help you start changing for the culture.

4. Install “sensors” to pick up customers’ ideas.  Don’t just look to employees for innovation – learn from your customers. They have ideas for new products and new uses for existing products, and their customer service complaints are a fertile source of ideas for improvement. Listen! Social media or a forum on the company website is a good sensor for picking up ideas; Glad Wrap’s 1000 Uses site is loaded with them. For customer service complaints, Travelocityinstalled a lobby phone booth where anyone in the company could listen in on customer service calls. Once a month, everyone was expected to provide feedback on at least two of those calls, and suggest an improvement to eliminate similar future calls plus a work-around for the interim.