The National Association of Credit Management's (NACM's) 117th Annual Credit Congress kicked off in Las Vegas this morning with an insightful presentation by Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and author of On Innovation.
Jones tailored his comments specifically to fit the audience of over 1,200 credit and risk management professional, relying on his lengthy track record of internet business success to open attendees' eyes to new perspectives on how companies can grow in an interconnected world. First, Jones noted that innovation and creativity are separated by one important difference. “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is about doing,” he said. “It's about putting an idea to work,” Jones added, showing a humorous slide that illustrated “the thinker and the doer” in which the doer was nowhere to be found. “The doer left,” said Jones. “He's out doing.”
The speed of today's business world requires companies to embrace change and accommodate what's become a very powerful buyer. “We're talking about innovation because change continues to accelerate,” said Jones. “We're living today in a wired world. Customers are getting smarter and they have those tools in their toolbox. This new world is a world where choice happens instantly. It's a world where prices are transparent.”
Information, said Jones, had escaped thanks to the Internet. “It's found its freedom,” he noted. “It's being beamed to us all the time and we are empowered by it.” Companies that fail to accept this new reality and cling to refrains like “we've always done it this way” will find themselves left behind as other, smarter companies embrace change and aim to thrive in it. “If you don't like change,” said Jones, “you're going to like irrelevance even less.”
Jones went on to discuss the big structural changes that are required for companies to create what he called “a culture of innovation.” “It's about new service models, new payment models,” he said. “It's about taking a little bit of money and making it a bigger pile of money.”
Innovation, according to Jones, has two pillars: the culture and the team. The former aspect is often where companies tend to lose themselves, he observed. “Culture eats strategy for lunch. If you don't have the right culture, it doesn't matter how good the planning effort is,” said Jones. “You simply won't move forward unless you create a culture of innovation.”
What Jones urged attendees to build was a culture where failure isn't necessarily a bad thing, describing a “culture of innovation” as “a place where creativity can exist.” “Innovation is not the Olympics,” Jones said. “Innovation is like baseball, and in baseball, if you fail 70% of the time, you're actually doing pretty good.”
Jones was just the first of many presentations scheduled at this year's Credit Congress that aim to give today's credit and risk professionals the knowledge they need to thrive now and in the future. He greeted attendees and signed copies of his book, On Innovation, in the NACM booth at the Credit Congress Exhibition Hall after his enlightening presentation.