Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Innovation in Difficult Times

Many of us feel the economic slowdown, and many of us are in constrictive thinking (cost reductions, productivity challenges, competitive pricing, customer payment challenges,longer sales cycles) etc....While we can't control the economy or other major forces of change - what we can do is position ourselves to thrive positively in challenging times. This blog provides some tips to lead innovation more effectively in challening markets.


The most challenging reality in an economic slowdown is to ensure some of the following tactics are put into play. If an organization paralyzes itself with fear based thinking, the creative innovation energy that is so precious to develop new products and services can be drained.

So we recommend:

1. Think Outside the Box - and plan in many directions. Apply scenario planning for the business on both best and worst case scenarios to increase your organization's leadership level of readiness to execute effectively. When times are tough gearing up more options to plan against increases team building, align(s) possibilities and provides increased confidence that the organization is doing everything possible to operate effectively. Perhaps, you share the scenarios on a wiki to involve your employees more actively and ask them to think of alternative scenarios. Increasing employee engagement will increase their resilience to "act."

2. Neutralize your fear. Neuroscience tells us that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off. You can start to neutralize that system by avoiding people who are all doom and gloom about the economy and turning off the constant negative media news. Focus on the positive.

3. Stay energized and in the game even when its tough. In difficult markets, employees and leaders often simply hunker down and focus on the short term. They often decrease their visibility in the organization. This is actually the worst thing you can do. In times like this - employees need to become more visible. So volunteer for projects, speak up more, find pathways to learn more, keep stimulating good ideas to help the organization save money but also inject solutions to support the long term. A balance is what will win the day to a healthier economic recovery.

4. Never stop learning. Now and in the future - your value to any organization depends less on what you know and more on how quickly you can update your knowledge and respond to changing conditions. Change the types of magazines, trade journals and books that you read. Expand your thinking and new ideas will follow.

5. Innovation is always best stimulated from diversity. So network, network, network, and then network some more. This is all about increasing your social capital. Capital is the accumulated wealth, especially as used to produce more wealth. Social capital is the wealth that exists because of your social relationships. Think of this as the value of your conections to others.


When the going gets tough avoid the tendency to hunker down and grind things out day by day. Vary your work day. Find ways to learn, meet new people, and increase your visibility. Bring a positive energy forward and your employees will increase their confidence due to your "can do " attitude. Fear paralyzes growth and innovation. Avoid this trap - it is a death spiral.

Helix Commerce actively develops employee engagement and innovation stimulation programs using next generation collaboration solutions; wikis, blogs, and virtual worlds can increase an organization's collaboration skills especially in tough times when face to face interactions is increasingly under pressure against reduced budget $. However, even in these realities, organizations need to ensure that work is also fun. Avoid the fear trap, this is an innovation killer.

Give us a call and we can explore together how to increase your organization's innovation and employee engagement practices. If you have never experienced a training session in a virtual world conference or a meeting in a virutal world - you are missing out on one of the lowest cost tactics to stimulate innovation. or

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Women Gain Hidden Ground in the Boardroom

Recent research by by Dan R. Dalton and Catherine M. Dalton profiled in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) highlighted that women are starting to gain some hidden ground in the boardroom.

With over 80% of purchasing power in the USA being influenced by women, businesses need to factor in more customer or consumer purchasing experiences that cater to women's needs.

If over 80% of the boards are governed by men, how can they effectively understand their customer psyche. I find it rather ironic - we hear the claim customer first, yet the board of director leadership composition rarely reflects a fully diversified market profile to local markets.

In Toronto, for example our main ethnic sectors would be ensuring a mix of Asian, Hindi, Italian, Jewish, Hispanic, Black and White cultural heritages had a represented voice in the boardroom. Unfortunately companies lag in diversity at the top, and leadership representation of women remains in Canada 5-6% of board room composition on average.

This research below highlights some glimmers of hope.... time will tell. The statistics have not really improved in over 15 years ... so I remain concerned this research is not representative rather a glimmer of hope is always an improvement in outlook. So recognition and applause is deserving to the research team.

Research Highlights are summarized below:

Although the number of women serving as Fortune 500 directors has risen only marginally in recent years, the simple board-membership data conceal important progress. The percentage of women on the crucial audit, compensation, and nominating/corporate governance committees of the biggest companies is increasing markedly, as is the likelihood of their chairing those committees. Moreover, significantly more women have become lead directors (a pivotal position on a board where the chairman is also CEO). In 2001, just 1.8% of lead directors were women; by 2007, the figure was 8.1%.

Other trends support the notion that women’s corporate clout is growing at a healthy pace:

** More than 80% of Fortune 500 boards include at least one woman.

** Between 2001 and 2007, the number of boards with two women rose 34%, and those with three more than tripled (from 25 to 76 companies).

Thus, it is becoming commonplace for male directors to interact with female directors who have significant governance responsibilities.

That portends well, we believe, for women’s increased presence in the boardroom over the long term.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blogging Tips for the NEW YEAR!

Blogging Tips and Resources

This blog entry contains helpful blogging tip sources, as well as a list of definitions to support business users improve their knowledge of Web 2.0 concepts reg: effective blogging tips and techniques.

Useful Links

Daily Blog Tips

Blogging Basics - great posts for beginner and seasoned bloggers alike

Top 10 Blog Writing Tips - tips to keep in mind for publishing great blog content

25 Tips For Marketing Your Blog

25 Tips To Optimize Your Blog For Readers and Search Engines


Included below is a gloassary of common blogger terminology and links to useful blog resources on everything from optimizing searching to general blog 'netiquette'.

Blogging Glossary

A-List: Supposedly a list of bloggers (also called A-Listers) that receives more traffic and attention than the rest of the blogosphere. The existence of such an A-List is debated, as well as the reasons behind the higher popularity of those bloggers.

AdSense: The most popular advertising network on the Internet. It is owned by Google, and it allows bloggers to monetize their blogs by displaying contextual text messages. Every time someone clicks on one of the text links, the blogger will earn some money (ranging from $0.01 up to $50 in some rare cases).

AdWords: The opposite end of AdSense. Google AdWords enables companies and individuals to promote their products, services and websites under a cost per click (CPC) model. The advertiser needs to specify the keywords that he wants to target, and how much he is willing to pay for each click. The ads might appear on Google's search results as well as on the AdSense units found on other websites (called "Content Network).

Affiliate Marketing: A popular way to make money online where you have a merchant that is willing to let other people (affiliates) sell his own products or services, in exchange for a commission. Commissions can be fixed or variable, and based on clicks, leads or sales.

Akismet: The most popular spam filter plugin for WordPress blogs. It was created by the same company that coded WordPress, called Automattic.

Alexa: An internet company (subsidiary of that tracks the traffic for all websites on the Internet. The rankings used to be inferred from the statistical usage of a browser toolbar. Recently they changed the algorithm to remove the toolbar bias in favor of technology related website. Keep in mind that the lower the Alexa ranking, the higher the traffic of the website. There is some controversy regarding the accuracy of the rankings.

Anchor Text: The text of a backlink. Most search engine experts agree that the archor text is a factor that can influence largely the search rankings of a website or web page. The more topical they are the better (provided some variety is included, else a spam penalty could occur).

Archives: A section of a blog where all or some of the existing posts are displayed. They can be displayed by category, by month, by year and so on.

Atom: A web feed syndication format, developed as an alternative for RSS. It basically enables people to receive updates from a website whenever new content is published.

Automattic: Company founded by Matt Mullenweg, and responsible for the development of (the blogging software) and (the hosting platform), among other projects.

Backlinks: Hyperlinks present in other blogs or websites that point either to the homepage or to internal pages of a website. They are important because Google and other search engines relate the number and quality of backlinks to the trust level of that website.

Blackhat: A group of SEO and online marketing techniques that are not necessarily ethical, and sometimes not even legal. Hiding text behind images or using doorway pages with redirects are examples of blackhat techniques.

Blog: A specific type of website where the author publishes his thoughts, ideas or knowledge about different topics. Usually the content is published in small articles, called posts, and in chronological order. Blogs emerged as online diaries, but today they cover all niches, and compete head to head with mainstream media.

Blog Carnival: An event where bloggers get together to create a collection of articles covering a common topic. Most of the times they have one hosting blog, and participant blogs that will send their contributions to the carnival.

Blogger: Anyone who owns or authors a blog. Blogger is also the commercial name of Google's hosted and free blogging platform (recognized by the .blogspot extension).

Blogging: The act of writing something on a blog. It can also mean the broader range of activities that bloggers perform (e.g., interacting with visitors, researching content and so on).

Bloglines: One of the most popular RSS feed readers. It is a web-based application that allows the user to subscribe to and manage RSS feeds.

Blogosphere: Term used to describe the universe created by all blogs, its connections, networks and conversations.

Blogroll: A once very popular feature on blogs that allowed the author to share with his readers a list of recommended external blogs. This section was usually included on the sidebar of the blog. These days fewer and fewer bloggers are still using a blogroll.

Categories: Most blogs cover a wide range of sub-topics, and those are called categories. A technology blog, for instance, might have different categories for software, hardware and science news.

Comments: Virtually all blog platforms contain a comment system where readers are able to comment and leave feedback on each page and/or post of the blog. The author might or might not require user registration before a comment can be posted. This feature transformed blogs into live conversations, and it contributed largely to their overall success on the Internet.

Comment spam: Comments made with the sole purpose of gaining a backlink, which in turn will send traffic or link juice (provided the blog in question doesn't use the nofollow tag) to the site of the spammer. Some spam comments are very explicit and come with several links to drug or gambling related sites. Other forms are more subtle, where the commenter actually tries to leave a relevant message on the blog.

Compete: A web analytics company that, like Alexa, tracks and estimates the traffic levels of websites. They have a particular bias towards the U.S. market.

CPC: Acronym for Cost-per-Click, and it represents a form of online advertising where advertisers bid an amount of money that they are willing to spend for every visitor that clicks on his ad and visits his website or product page. On the other side you have publishers that choose to display CPC ads on their sides, and they earn money for every click. The most popular CPC ad network on the Internet is Google AdWords-AdSense, and CPC rates can vary from $0.01 up to $50 in some rare cases.

CPA: Acronym for Cost-per-Action, and it represents a form of online advertising where advertisers pay when visitors perform a specific action (e.g., when they sign up for an email newsletter or when they end up purchasing the product). Most affiliate marketing programs tend to use a CPA scheme.

CPM: Acronym for Cost-per-Mille, where mille means 1000 in Latin. CPM, therefore, is the cost per 1000 page impressions, and it represents a form of online advertising where advertisers will pay a fixed price for getting their banners or ads displayed 1000 times on a specific website.

CSS: Acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, and it is a language used to style web pages written in HTML and XHTML. The advantage of CSS is that it allows you to control the style of any number of pages simultaneously from a central location (the CSS file).

Digg: The original and most popular social bookmarking site. It is a basically a user-driven site, where the members of the community get to decide (by voting or burying the stories) what should go to the front page and what should not. For most web publishers, getting featured on Digg is a joy. It can send tens of thousands of visitors in a single day. There is some controversy around the quality of this traffic though, due to the peculiar traits of Digg users. For example, it is reported that those visitors don't stick on the website for long, and they rarely click on ads.

Digg Auto-Bury: It has never been officially confirmed by Digg, but there is strong evidence to suggest that they have a penalty that makes it impossible for the penalized website to reach the front page, regardless of how many votes its stories might receive. Websites and blogs receive the auto-bury penalty when users report them for spam or for not submitting original content repeatedly.

Digg Bury-Brigade: A group (or groups) or active and loyal Digg users that try to keep the site free from what they consider to be spam or low quality content. The make this control by mass burying stories. Certain topics tend to get targeted often by those groups, including blogging, online marketing and search engine optimization.

Domain: Also known as domain name or hostname, it is a name that identifies a website or computer on the Internet. An example of a domain is Notice that is no longer the domain but rather an URL.

Duplicate content: The presence of very similar content (usually text) inside a website or across different websites. Search engines tend to penalize websites that contain a large amount of duplicate content.

Favicon: Short for "favorites icon," it is basically an icon associated with a website that will appear on the browser URL bar or on the bookmarks section. They are used to make it easier to identify the website in question.

Feed: Also called web feed or news feed, is a data format used on the Internet to allow users to receive updates from their favorite websites and blogs, as soon as new content is available. There are two main feed formats: RSS and Atom.

Feed count: Usually the term refers to a widget by Feedburner that reports the total number of RSS subscribers to a given blog.

Feedburner: A web company (acquired by Google recently) that provides added servers for website owners that publish an RSS feed. It is a free service, and it allows you to make your feed more human friendly, to add special features, and to collect data and statistics about your subscribers.

FTP: Acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is a network protocol used to transfer data from one computer to another. If you have a hosting company, you will need to use it to transfer site files from your computer to the servers of the company.

Google Analytics: A free service provided by Google that gives a website owner all sorts of information and statistics about the incoming traffic and visitors. Google Analytics is also known as one of the most reliable web analytics services (others like Webalizer or AwStats tend to over estimate the numbers by including non-human traffic on the data).

Google Reader: The most popular RSS reader around the Internet. It is a web-based application that allows the user to subscribe to and manage RSS feeds. Given its popularity many websites use special badges to let the user subscribe to Google Reader directly.

Hotlinking: Also known as inline linking and bandwidth theft, hotlinking refers to the practice of using objects (most of the times images) from one site inside the page of a second site. While this practice was recognized by the original web architecture, lately people tend to associate it with malicious uses. When you hotlink to the images hosted on another site, for instance, you will end up "stealing" the bandwidth of that website and possibly infringing its copyrights.

Linkbait: Any form of web content (e.g., articles, web tools, quizzes, videos, images) that is created with the main purpose of attracting links to the website that is publishing it. The quantity and quality of backlinks is one of the main factors behind Google's search algorithm, hence why people value them so much. There are even online marketers specialized in creating linkbait campaigns.

Load time: The time, usually expressed in seconds, that a website takes to load. Most webmasters aim to have fast loading websites, since this is a paramount factor of the user experience. There is research confirming that most web users will skip a website altogether if it fails to load within 5 seconds.

Movable Type: A blogging software created by Six Apart. On 2007 they transformed it into a free platform (released under the GPL General Public License).

Meta tags: Those are HTML tags that resides in the section of a web page. Unlike other HTML tags, meta tags do not appear anywhere on the page itself, so most visitors never see them. Different meta tags serve different purposes, but they are generally used to provide additional information about the page to search engines bots.

Nameserver: A computer server that will map a domain name (which is human friendly) to a computer identifier such as the IP address (which is machine friendly). Those servers implement the DNS (Domain Name System) protocol. If your hosting company is HOST X, for example, you would need to set your domain name servers to (the nameserver), so that when someone types your, the DNS will know what server will know to map that name into an IP address.

Niche: In online jargon, it refers to a specific topic or subject. Most websites cover one or more niches. Examples include sports, gossip, humor and finance. Some niches are said to be more popular and/or profitable then others.

Nofollow: Also called nofollow tag or link condom, it is a tag inserted in the link code that communicates to crawling bots and search engines that they should not follow the link, and thus not consider it as a real link that would otherwise pass trust (in common jargon, link juice). Google and other search engines recommend that all paid links should contain this tag, because since they are not editorial they should not affect search engine rankings.

PageRank: Also called Google PageRank, it is a metric system used by Google to evaluate the trust level of different websites. It has a scale that goes from 0 to 10, where 10 is the highest level of trust you can get. There is a complex algorithm behind the scale, but the most important factor influencing it is the number and the quality of backlinks of the website in question. The nominal PageRank (the one that is visible to everyone using the Google toolbar) is updated quarterly or so, while the real one is constantly updated.

Page Views: Also called impressions. Every time a user loads a page from a website, one page view is generated. One single user, for example, can generate several page views through out his visit on a website. Popular websites can generate millions of page views every month.

Partial and full feeds: Whenever you publish a web feed from a blog or website, you can choose the part of your content that will go the feed. There are two main options: full feeds and partial feeds. Full feeds will carry all the content that is published on the website. Partial feeds, on the other hands, will carry only a brief excerpt of the content. Some people argue that partial feeds are better for monetization of a website, since they force the subscribe to click on the items that interested him, visiting the website. Most people, however, prefer to publish a full feed, because it represents a much higher incentive for people to subscribe.

PHP: An acronym for PHP: Hypertext Processor (recursive), it is a scripting language desigend for the creation of dynamic web pages. Many websites (e.g., are built around PHP, as well as some blogging platforms (e.g., WordPress). If you are a blogger or webmaster, there are good chances that you will sooner or later come across PHP.

Pillar article: A term coined by Yaro Starak, which represents a long and structured article, containing useful information or resources, that is published in a blog. Pillar articles are vital for building authority and generating traffic on your blog. Both of those factors come from other bloggers that find the value on the pillar article and link to it.

Ping: A computer network tool used to test whether a particular computer or host is reachable across on the web. Inside the blogger and webmaster jargon, ping also means the act of sending a network message to a server, to inform it that you own website has been updated. Whenever you publish a new post, for instance, you could ping a search engine to let it know about it.

Pingback: A network tool used to notify a website when someone else has linked or referred to it. Most blogging platforms handle pingbacks automatically. That is, when someone links to an article that you wrote, his link will appear in your comments section.

Pligg: An open source software that enables the user to create a social bookmarking site on his own site. The most famous site running on Pligg is

WordPress Plugin: Plugins are pieces of code created with the purpose of expanding the functionalities of a software, in this case of WordPress. There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins already created, solving a wide range of problems and needs.

Pro Blogger: A professional blogger that generates enough income with his blog (or blogs) to be able to live with it. The first website aimed to teach other people how to blog and how to generate money from their blogs. It was created by Darren Rowse in 2003.

RSS: Acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It is a format used to deliver information from websites and pages that get updated regularly. An RSS document (which is called feed) contains either a summary or the full content from a website. The main benefit of RSS is that it enables people to stay connected with their favorite websites without having to visit them. Once you subscribe to a particular RSS feed, you will automatically receive updates from the website that publishes the feed, whenever they release new content.

Scraper: Someone that copies posts from other sources (blogs or websites) and pastes on hiw own website, with or without credit, and without permission of the author. Notice that scraping can occur manually or automaicall, and the scraper uses a RSS feed scraping tool. Scraping is obviously a violation of copyrights.

Splog: A blog that is used to publish spam material. Splogs usually contain text copied from other sources, combined with links or ads of drugs, gambling and similar.

SEO: Acronym for search engine optmization. It includes several activities that are aimed to improve the rankings of a website inside the results page of search engines (mostly Google these days). There are main two groups of activities: on-site optimization, which tries to optimize the different tags and the content on the website; and off-site optimization which tries to work on external factors like the number and quality of backlinks, promotion techniques and so on.

SERP: Acronym for search engine results page. When you search on Google for some keyword or term, you will be presented with 10 results that fit your search query. That page is a SERP.

Social Bookmarking: Also called social news aggregators or community bookmarking. A family of websites that allow users to discover, submit, share and vote on stories and articles from around the Internet. The most popular social bookmarking sites are,, and

Social media: A broad term used to define website and web applications where you have social interactions around a media form (text, images, audio, video, or any combination of them). Examples of social media include blogs, online forums, social networks, Wikipedia and so on.

Social networks: On the web, the term encompass a wide range of websites and applications, wherever the goal is to let users of a certain group or having a certain interest to connect, interact and share things. Popular examples include and

StumbleUpon: A very popular social bookmarking sites focused on enabling its users to discover new and interesting websites. It works around a browser toolbar that allows users to vote stories up or down, and to click on a "Stumble!" button that will serve a random website or page, based on the user preferences and on what similar users voted up in the past.

Subscribers: Visitors that either grabbed the feed of a website or that subscribed to receive updates via email. Whenever the site is updated with new content, those subscribers will be informed about it or receive the content integrally on the RSS reader or email inbox. Webmasters and bloggers value subscribers because the represent a loyal and stable source of traffic.

Tags: Similarly to categories, tags are used to classificy the articles rn content on a website. Tags, however, are more flexible than categories, and usually are used in a more specific way. One article or post is usually filed under one broad category, and many tags are assigned to it.

Technorati: A search engine for blogs, which tracks blogs, links and posts from around the world. It was very popular until a couple of years ago, although lately it is losing attention. One of its famous features is the Technorati Top 100 list, which ranks the largest 100 blogs in the world according to links from other blogs.

Twitter: A social networking and microblogging tool that gained enormous popularity recently. Users can "follow" other users to receive updates from them. Each update can contain no more than 140 characters, with or without hyperlinks.

Text Link Ads: A form of online advertising where the advertiser purchases a link on another website, with a text of his choice, and usually without the nofollow tag. This practice was very popular until last year, but then Google started penalizing sites that were either buying or selling text links with the purpose of altering search engine results, and as a consequence the text link ads market halted somewhat.

Timestamp: Most blogs publish content in a chronological order, and therefore each article or post carries a timestamp that reveals when it was first published. Blogging platforms like WordPress have a flexible timestamp feature, allowing the user to pre-schedule posts that should be published automatically in a future date.

Trackback: A network tool, similar to the pingback, used to notify a website when someone else has linked or referred to it. The difference between the two is that Trackbacks are more often subject of spam.

Uniques: Also called unique visitors, it refers to the number of humans that visited a website in a given time frame. Suppose 3 people visited a blog in a given day, where 2 of them visited the blog twice, and each flipped a toal of 5 pages. On that day, this blog would have had 3 unique visitors, 5 total visitors, and 15 page views.

Viral Content: Content that spreads very fast on the Internet, just like a flu virus would in real life. The content itself can be an article, a picture, or a video, but it must be very funny, controversial or information so that people feel an urge to blog about it, to tell their friends about it and so on.

The most popular blogging software on the Internet, create by a company called Automattic. WordPress gained traction mainly due to its active community. You have thousands of people contributing with free templates, plugins and supporting the overall developing of the open source project.

WordPress Themes: Also called simply themes, those are templates created for WordPress blogs (notice that you might also have themes or templates for other platforms like Movable Type of Blogger, but those are less common around the web). The vast majority of WordPress themes are release freely for the public. Recently there is also a trend for premium themes that sell for a price, anywhere from $20 up to $100.

URL: Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, sometimes used as a synonym for Uniform Resource Identifies (URI). The URL includes a domain name and a protocol to be used. For example, when a browser sees the URL it knows that it will need to send a secure http request to the host
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