Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 16 2015

The Two Key Factors That Will Fuel Innovation In Your Organization

By David McMillin


No matter where you turn today, you’ll hear one word: innovation. From President Obama to major car brands to meeting planners, everyone is discussing the need to innovate. Still, while many want to innovate, adopting an approach that allows for new ideas and new processes can feel very challenging. At Convening Leaders 2015, Terry Jones helped meeting professionals recognize that innovation boils down to two key ingredients.

“Innovation rests on culture and team,” Jones said. “If you get culture and team right, you put gas in the tank of innovation.”

Jones knows how to push the innovation accelerator. From founding Travelocity to serving as founding Chairman of Kayak to his current role as Chairman of Wayblazer, his career is a testament to the power of thinking differently.

Creating A Culture That Embraces Experimentation

The ability to innovate relies on feeling comfortable enough to dedicate time and resources to developing new ideas. In many cases, those ideas will be wrong. Jones highlighted that 20 percent of the regular work at Kayak involves testing new ideas.

“Almost all of it is failing, but we’re experimenting and learning,” Jones said. “If you don’t fail, you’re not experimenting enough.”

Of course, failure can be scary. It can lead to losing money, frustrating Board members and worrying that the organization is heading in the wrong direction. However, Jones stressed that meeting professionals and suppliers must work to create cultures that accept the possibility of failure.

“The problem with innovation is that most employees are afraid to take risks and go for it,” Jones said.

Fixing that problem starts at the top.

“Take the first risk,” Jones advised. “When your employees see you take that risk, they’ll take risks, too.”

Finding The Right Cast To Support That Culture

The leaders of an organization must set an example to inspire innovation, but Jones told Convening Leaders attendees that the HR department plays an important role, too.

“Hire people who don’t fit in,” Jones said. “One person can make all the difference in where your company is going.”

The most successful teams aren’t made of people who all think the same way and hail from the same backgrounds. Instead, they’re made of members who bring different opinions and areas of expertise to the table. They’re all striving toward the same goal, but they each may see the benefits of taking different roads to reach it.

Looking for more advice on helping your organization find new levels of success? Check out our coverage of Andrew Zolli’s Convening Leaders appearance for assistance in understanding and recognizing changes that will impact your future.

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