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Terry Jones Talks Innovation As Keynote Speaker At WRC

Travelocity.com and Kayak.com founder Terry Jones brought  one message to a full room of participants at the NAED Western Regional Conference.

The way to keep pace with today’s technology is to innovate.

“If you want success, build a pillar of culture and a pillar of team,” Jones told the audience. “Culture eats strategy for lunch. You will not move forward unless you have a culture where new ideas exist.  it is OK to fail at innovation, but you have to learn from that.”

Jones points out that it failing happens in all forms of life.  He used sports as an example, where teams will go over game films not to embarrass someone for making a mistake, but to point out mistakes to make sure they don’t happen again. “As a leader of a company, you have to build that team and coach it through its own innovation instead of just giving orders.”

Jones also believes in an Amazon strategy when it comes to strategy called “2 pizza teams”.  He says if you are having an innovation meeting, you should be able to feed the whole group with less than 2 pizzas.  Otherwise, the group is too large and won’t accomplish its goals.  He also says company leaders and managers need to listen all employees.

“Some of the best innovations come from the bottom of the organization. As a leader, you need to get those ideas from the bottom and pay attention to them. You also need to be fearful of middle management, who will often kill great ideas before they get to the top.”

Jones describes customers as armed and dangerous, thanks to the internet. “They want us to communicate their way, which is also 24/7,” Jones adds. “They want solutions. They want the job done, plain and simple. And customers are getting smarter.  If they feel it is easier and faster, they will short circuit distribution by finding their own shortcuts.”

In a bit of a play on words, Jones also said businesses need to re-wire themselves.  “Too many customers are going straight to the manufacturer.  We live in a world of speed and convenience, and it is all with the customer’s needs in mind,” Jones said. “Think like the customer to solve their problems.What is the end that a customer wants.  You need to have them discover your products so they can get to their end.”

Jones also pointed out that thanks to the internet, business models are changing very fast, and if you are not willing to embrace change, then you will be forced to embrace becoming irrelevant. One way to do that is by building on your relationships with your customers digitally, or through social media or your web site. Customers want simplicity when they are buying, and businesses need to remember that.

“The purpose of a sale is not to make a sale,” Jones points out. “The purpose of a sale is to make a customer. For that, you also want to have a data base of what they bought to keep them coming back. It makes a difference when you are in competition with everyone else. It deepens the relationship.”

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