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How is Innovation Like Baseball?

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Travelocity Founder Shares 3 Ways CEOs Can Benefit
by Thinking Like a Manager

“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!”

About Terry Jones

Terry Jones founded Travelocity.com in 1996 and led the company as president and CEO until May 2002. He is managing principal of Essential Ideas, a consultancy he cofounded to help companies in their transition to the digital economy, and serves as chairman of the board at Kayak.com, which he also founded. Previously, he served as chief information officer at Sabre Inc., where he held various executive positions for 24 years. Before Sabre, he joined American Airlines as director of product development and eventually became president of the division. Jones is a graduate of Denison University.

 

 

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Let’s Rededicate Ourselves to the Cause of Justice – SPLC Celebrates 40 Years

You’ll get in-depth briefings on SPLC‘s work from our senior staff and special guests. Learn what goes on behind the scenes of our investigations. Watch our award-winning Teaching Tolerance films.

Wall of Tolerance

At the Civil Rights Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, you’ll see the water flow over the 40 names of those who gave their lives in the struggle of equality. The simplicity and power of the Memorial will remind you of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.

In the Civil Rights Memorial Center, you’ll feel as though you’re standing at the crossroads of history. You’ll see the names of the hundreds of thousands on the Wall of Tolerance who have taken a public stand for racial justice and tolerance. You too can affirm your dedication to the cause by adding your name to the Wall.

The struggle for civil and human rights continues. The SPLC staff and our supporters remain vigilant in our efforts to win equality and justice for victims of hate and others who have no other champion.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Event

Is there a charge?
No, but you must RSVP to the event for admittance.

Where do I stay in Montgomery?
We have a list of available hotels within 10 miles of SPLC. Additional hotel information is available from the Montgomery Visitors Bureau.

How do I get to Montgomery?
Montgomery has a regional airport serviced by Delta, US Airways and American Airlines. You can also fly into the Atlanta airport (153 miles from Montgomery) or the Birmingham, Alabama, airport (97 miles from Montgomery).

When should I arrive?
SPLC anniversary events will take place most of the day on Saturday, April 30. There will be special SPLC and Civil Rights Memorial Center tours and other opportunities to meet SPLC staff on Friday, April 29, and Sunday morning, May 1.

Is transportation provided?
The downtown Montgomery hotels are within walking distance of SPLC. Taxi service and public transportation are limited in Montgomery. Please plan your transportation needs accordingly.

What else can I see in Montgomery?
Montgomery boasts a wealth of historic attractions, and the city’s Visitors Bureau has developed a suggested itinerary for those who wish to explore the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, Selma, Alabama, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge – the site of Bloody Sunday – are approximately 45 miles from Montgomery.

Individuals requesting more than five tickets:
If you need more than five tickets, please write your request in the comments section of the RSVP page or call 334-956-8269.

What is the appropriate attire?
The entire weekend will be casual. Average high temperature in April is 78 degrees.



 

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