Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Twelve Days of Holiday Innovations

The Twelve Days of Holiday Innovations - A Tribute to the Season! Make that Six Days!

First, I apologize I have been remiss writing the last few months due to a new book project - just now released with the CEO of Webex, Subrah Iyar, called: Why Buy The Cow, available at This was a year plus research project on leading approaches to Software as a Service (SaaS) and innovations in this market space. A short but good read for the New Year!

In thinking about 2007, and all the innovations in play. I thought given the holiday season twelve reflections would be appropriate. So enjoy the festive thoughts.

Reflection One - “Internet Collaboration Jingles” - the internet, mobile, commerce and media have given us new ways to create new innovation jingles across global boundaries. Today, there are few boundaries left in companies ability to involve their customers, employees, partners, and suppliers in new forms of collaboration experiences. The co-creation opportunity to distribute value through dispersed networks has enabled companies to reduce their time to market, cost structures, and increase their product innovation capabilities. A good example of opportunity is to transform the US Economy (12 percent) of the labor activity into more distributed and networked from of innovation to improve product and services innovation productivity. Let’s get those jingle innovation bells rockin more. They really rock!

Reflection Two - Finding More Talent - Where is Rudolf when you need him? Organizations that strive to find full time talent in traditional ways will continue to be disappointed as the market for hidden talent deepens into the web enterprise. We are now in the ANYwhere Network where sourcing talent is only a google search away. As the workplace continues to go collaborative on steroids, and new communication tools like Octopz continue to arise, companies can decentralize more of their work and drive more economies to their organizations, with even more highly specialized experts than often organizations are able to attract internally. TopCoder is a company that has created a network of software developers that gives organizations access to a diverse talent pool which is more cost effective than hiring full time engineers. We are projecting that the Brand of One talent sourcing will continue as more talent adopts these new forms of working. Also, organizations that source more transparently requirements will achieve more competitive differentiation as they shift to recomposing organizational boundaries and distributing tasks to more specialized and distributed networks of competence.

Reflection # 3 - Customer Interaction Value - “Go Prancer, Dancer and Vicken” - Given the ubiquitous nature of technology and unified communication goals in play, customer interactions are being executed faster and faster. Although speed has improved dramatically, and device utility extended and form factors simplified - the customer interaction experience requires more creative innovation than in any other time in history. Customers are acutely atuned to the extra personal interactions, the relationship creativity, and the unique memorable DNA connections. Customer Experience is now a major Innovation differentiator for customers. West Jet, a major Canadian airline uses humor and wit in their welcoming and departure messages - lightening up passengers buzy travel days with a smile. Apple’s iPOD object of desire experience and branding color have captured the hearts and souls of customer’s world-wide. Now with the iPhone - customer experiences are even better. What is clear is customer innovation requires more customer experience brand differentiation - and anything goes - to stand out and be more memorable in an information overloaded economy.

Reflection # 4 - Interactive Virtual Worlds Shape New Purchasing Experiences - “Addicted Reindeer” - The market for virtual worlds is now over a $1B industry and the growth is accelerating as virtual world and game line experiences start to enter now the enterprise markets. Innovations in recruiting talent in virtual world experiences, employee onboarding in virtual worlds, purchasing virtual goods and services, branding and advertising, to selling real estate property. Companies like: Second Life, and soon to be a major competitor to Second Life: Areta will enter the online virtual world. Life will never be the same as we move from addicted gaming with teenagers to a generation of addicted reindeer of all ages. Who knew StarWars would be so close to reality in 2008.

Reflection #5 - Consumer Innovation - Frosty the Snowman Meets the Grinch! - In today’s super turbo charged web universe, consumers can real time co-create with suppliers. With the evolution of Web 2.0 Technologies and Mashups - new widespread platforms for interaction, communication, interaction and activism are now powerful new ways for customer engagement and innovation for economic advantage. Oh My News, a popular South Korean online newspaper is now South Koreas most influential media outlets with over 700,000 site visits a day - and the reporters are the local citizens. Threadless asks people to submit new ideas for T-shirts and cosnumers propose ideas, designs and the community votes on new products. Every one can be a real journalist like the wiki enclyclopeida as the wisdom of the crowd starts to become more apparent as a new model for innovation.

Reflection #6 - Prediction Intelligence - “Who knew children could leave so many cookies for Santa” - With the information explosion, we have had an increase in ideagoras (eBAY like marketplaces for Ideas) to predictive market models to promote searching for the holy grail as companies like Google mine growing pools of rich data to dervide more intelligence. What is clear is that identifying patterns of opportunities more rapidly than the nearest competitor is becoming a increasing requirement for competitive advantage.

Predictive analytics offers something completely different from standard business reporting and sales forecasting and provides more accurate and insightful actionable predictions for each customer. This special form of business intelligence foresees each customer purchase, response or cancellation, predicting the individual behavior of each existing or prospective customer under certain conditions. Naturally, per-customer predictions are key to allocating marketing and sales resources. For example, by predicting which product features each customer will respond to, you can target each customer accordingly. Leading analyst firm IDC ( predicted that the predictive analytics market sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent during the next five years. Every company striving for innovation strength will need to intensify their depth of expertise in predictive analytics and disruptive innovation detection.

Whew - now I remember why singing the Twelve Days of Xmas I got so tired - same thing happens when writing a blog - so signing off for now.

Wishing all my readers a happy holiday season and commited to updates on a more regular basis in 2008. Safe travels and much growth and happiness in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wikis are a Powerful Knowledge Accelerator

The twenty first century is moving more rapidly than the last century.

Knowledge used to double world-wide in decades; three years ago knowledge doubled every twelve months. Today, we are doubling global knowledge in less than six months and are rapidly approaching a period where knowledge will double world-wide not just in days - but in seconds.

There has never been a period in mankind’s history where the fountain of knowledge has been flowing so rapidly. We continue to invent gadgets such as cell phones, iPods, RIMs, and other portable devices to help keep knowledge on point 24×7. The ubiquitous nature of knowledge transfer although has improved our access to know-how - it has also generated complexity in our ability to source the right knowledge in the right format at the right time. In some ways, imagine pouring a glass of water and the water runs over the top of the glass continually — this is the reality of today’s knowledge environment - there is tremendous knowledge captured - but easily finding it continues to be one of the catastrophe’s in managing intellectual assets.

Another relatively new source of knowledge capture and harvesting capability can be found in the usage of wikis. A wiki (sometimes wiki wiki) is a web application designed to allow multiple authors to add, remove, and edit content. The multiple author capability of wikis makes them effective tools for mass collaborative authoring.

Wikis enable rapid self-organizing and self-correcting knowledge capabilities and enable knowledge to be processed dynamically rather than other more traditional and highly structured sources of content management solutions. Users of wikis are allowed in real-time to agree or disagree in the sharing of content. In addition, this spontaneous flow of creativity and sharing of ideas may spark new insights contributing to innovation capacity development.

In San Diego County, the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) launched a program called mobile remote workforce innovation to improve services at risk to children and families, while decreasing costs. The economics of wikis supporting health care industries are very attractive, given the low cost of the software, and operating costs. Many of the leading Wiki Solution providers, like Atlassian, also donate the software for not for profit organizations - providing an additional incentive for organizations to take advantage of these types of solutions.

Isaac Jones Blog outlines three solutions for wiki applications which based on our working experience are all valid and accurate perspectives.

The first approach is using wikis for knowledge repositories - alot like an encyclopedia. We are using wikis in our client engagements so all of our client collateral is accessible via a wiki and at the end of our client projects, client can either pay a modest monthly fee for the knowledge to be maintained in our wiki environment, or transfer to their local servers. The opportunity to create these content management structures for ease of integrated collaboration are very powerful and effective communication approaches.

The second approach is for collaborative writing which is a bit like a more elegant version of emailing word documents. The ability to easily track document changes and allow the voice of multiple stakeholders to participate in the creation of a collaborative document we have used in our book publishing projects, and also in our market research projects.

The third approach is Situation awareness, which isn’t so different from the news; it draws from the news as a source, it can also be authored by the eye-witnesses themselves, and each story becomes an integral part of a knowledge repository. I don’t claim that these are an exhaustive, nor are they a partition: Wikis are also used for bug tracking and as web discussion forums, for instance.

In summary, wikis are a powerful knowledge accelerator and the market for these types of tools is exploding. IDC projects worldwide revenue growth of the overall collaboration market of 17% this year and 26% by 2011, with the fastest growth in live conferencing and team collaboration spaces. Forrester notes that Web 2.0-based social computing technologies are experiencing an explosion of innovation and proliferation, with many vendors incorporating blog and wiki technology into their products. A related development, mentioned by both Driver and Levitt, is the ability of newer tools to create mashups-essentially hybrid Web applications that contain content from multiple sources in a single user interface.

While Microsoft and IBM dominate many segments of the collaboration market-promoting one-stop shopping and integration across their products Google needs to be closed watched. The increasing breadth of Google’s productivity software includes email, calendaring, IM, word processing, spreadsheet, and Web site building and will soon add presentation graphics and wikis-all embedded with collaboration features. Google’s latest foray into making affordable messaging, collaboration, and office productivity tools targets business people worldwide and takes dead aim at Microsoft Office. . . . Google is not simply attacking Microsoft’s core email and office productivity applications business-Google is expanding the market for workplace productivity tools to include people who have traditionally been left without them.

One thing is for sure wikis have a strong future in the collaborative applications all aimed to improve knowledge worker productivity - finally some solutions which are firmly in the control of the end user community.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Recruiting the Right Talent

Recruiting the Right Talent

The number one priority for CEO’s globally is recruiting the right talent.

Securing optimal talent fit that embodies the knowledge, cultural values, and emotional smarts to get the job done continues to be a top of mind priority for organizations competing in the war for talent. Although we have all heard of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) not everyone has it. A few questions for reflection: Do you say what you think even if you know it will upset or hurt someone - even worse do you do this on email? Do you view people as basically good and well intentioned or are you always finding it hard to trust people and develop relationships over the long-term? Are you happy with life or are you constantly feeling the glass is half-empty? Can you develop sustaining and healthy long-term relationships or are people viewed as transactional experiences (like changing parts with little tolerance for ambiguity in life)? Depending on how you answered these questions you would either have a high EQ or a low EQ. Low EQ talent do not succeed well over the long term in their career roles, and are typically very poor managers as they create havoc in other’s lives and are not effective coaches to help people aspire to be the best they can be.

In today’s competitive environment for finding the best talent, Emotional Intelligence or EQ is more important for recruiting fit than technical skills. Smart people can grown and learn into a role - but if the EQ is not there - organizations will create cultures that are not aware of their emotions, know how to manage them or be aware of how their emotions impact the lives of others. When organizations recruit for emotionally intelligent leaders - managers and people simply do things much better!

The term EQ was dubbed after Daniel Goleman, psychologist and New York Times Contributor came out with his new book Emotional Intelligence. Although in the early days EQ was dismissed as a fad, companies have recognized the value of hiring and promoting emotionally superior workers, with the increased importance placed on leadership, team work, and culture fit. People with higher emotional intelligence know how to create and grow great teams - they are viewed as more human as leaders and they have a strong sense of heart and balance about life and its ebbs and flows. People often are hired due to their IQ - but what gets them to do better on the job is their EQ. Simple EQ questions are important to ask in recruiting that tests for peoples comfort in talking about their feelings.

Questions like: How are you feeling about looking for a new job in your life? When you are working, do you prefer to work on several tasks at once rather than focusing on just one? Do you find it easier to complete jobs if you work right to the deadline? Do you ask people for help if a task seems too hard or will you exhaust all options before asking for support? Do you prefer familiar tasks and consistency or do you prefer to have jobs that are constantly changing? Do you say what you think even if it upsets someone or do you look at conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow?

There are many good books on EQ on the market a few of our favorites are summarized. A good book for leaders is by Reldan Nadler, President of True North Leadership, Inc. and author of Leaders’ Playbook: How to Apply Emotional Intelligence - Keys to Great Leadership, as he shares ideas about Emotional Intelligence (EI), and puts its principles to work throughout this book to enhance your own business performance and that of your business team. Another good book for Project Managers is Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers: The People Skills You Need to Achieve Outstanding Results by Anthony Mersino.

There are recruiting tools that can help test and assess for emotional intelligence that help to identify people with enhanced skills - in today’s competitive world - hiring balanced leaders with both IQ and EQ will be a key success factor for enabling growth of organizations. As the talent pool becomes constrained, recruiting the right talent will intensify as an important leadership competency to develop. Even more importantly is for organization’s to have culture and strategy fit with their innovation growth objectives recruiting for EQ will be a competitive differentiator.

Check out

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Workplace Stress - A Business Productivity Killer

Stress in the workplace has become an increasingly hot topic over the past few decades.

Increased stress in the workplace has been shown to increase absenteeism and employee turnover. Increased stress in the workplace also increases medical and insurance costs because of rising. Workers compensation rates and awards due to mounting stress in the workplace suits. Stress, defined, is the “wear and tear” the body goes through as it adjusts to the constantly changing environment. Anything that causes change in a person’s life causes stress. Stress can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. The threat can be any situation that is experienced as a danger. Common short-term stresses include:

• noise
• crowding
• being isolated from others
• illness
• hunger
• danger
• infection

Stress is on the rise globally due to continued economic upheavals, and workplace stress is on everyone’s mind.

Downsizing, layoffs, mergers and bankruptcies have cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs and cause uncomfortable, stressful situations in the workplace. Millions more workers have been shifted to unfamiliar tasks within their companies and wonder how much longer they will be employed, causing a great deal of anxiety and stress in the workplace for everyone. Adding to the pressures that workers face are new bosses, computer surveillance of production, fewer health and retirement benefits, and the feeling they have to work longer and harder just to maintain their current economic status. Workers at every level are experiencing increased tension and uncertainty.

With the war for talent raging as baby boomers retire in droves - will leadership be accelerate focus on creating healthy workplaces? Clearly we are not making the major improvements in this area, as stress levels continue to erode the quality of human capital and innovation capabilities of organizations throughout North America.

Stress in the workplace reduces productivity, adversely affects the bottom line and lowers profits causing company’s stock price to fall. The American Institute of Stress estimates that stress in the workplace costs U.S. corporations over $300 billion annually, or more than ten times the cost of all strikes combined. In addition, employers may be held liable if they do not offer programs designed to reduce stress in the workplace. It has been estimated that 75 - 90 % of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.

One in five professionals claim that workplace stress has negatively impacted them physically or psychologically. To some, corporate culture mean toxic environments. Boosting employee productivity requires leadership to ensure that they are strengthening their emotional intelligence business acumen, and investing in stress management skills for their employees. In a recent survey by Leger Marketing, their research indicates that over 41% of blue collar, service and professional workers experience workplace stress as a result of work experiences. Physically 53% of Canadians say they are experiencing headaches, clenched jaws, indigestion, fatigue, insomnia due to stress.

As a result psychologically, 55% experience: anxiety, irritability, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, feelings of helplessness or of being trapped. Over 52% say that stress in the workplace increases their levels of impatience, causes them to procrastinate, makes them quick to argue or withdraw. 30% say stress prevents them from being recognized for their work contributions, while 22% believe that stress has prevented them from moving up in their careers.

Other insights on Canadians and stress are summarized below:

- More than six in 10 Canadians report that they are experience a great deal of stress on the job
- 34 percent of Canadians with health plans agree with the statement that “Workplace stress has been so overwhelming that it has made me physically ill at times.”
- 41 percent of Canadians say that their employer does not do nearly enough to help them manage stress at work
- It is estimated that 40% of worker turnover is due to job stress.

Unfortunately stress for professionals has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Unfortunately most organizations are not actively training all their talent to improve their emotional intelligence skills. One quick survey we provide our clients with more insight on their stress realities at work is a short diagnostic tool which gives key insights on employee’s job stress levels.

Job Stress Diagnostic ToolEnter a number on the sliding scale that best describes you:

Strongly Disagree Agree Somewhat Strongly Agree

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I can’t honestly say what I really think at the office. __________
I don’t have very much authority.
I could usually do a much better job if I were given more time. __________
I seldom receive adequate acknowledgement when my work is performed well. __________
In general, I am not particularly satisfied with my job. __________
I have the impression that I am repeatedly discriminated against at work. __________
My workplace environment is not a very pleasant or motivating environment to work in. __________
My job often interferes with my family or personal needs - and there is little tolerance for home life balance. __________
I tend to have frequent disagreements with superiors, coworkers or customers. __________
Most of the time I feel that I have very little control over my life at work.


Add up the replies to each question for your Total Job Stress Score. If you score between 10-30, you handle stress on your job well; between 40-60, moderately well; 70-100, you’re encountering problems that need to be addressed and resolved.

Employers have a major role to ease workplace stress. Workers need to learn to take some time out at work to reflect on their emotions and ask some tough questions about why they fell the way they do. Responsibility starts by taking control of one’s life and one’s environment. Employees need to have a positive attitude that they are not a victim - if the environment is toxic - change the environment. Start with the law of two feet if you cannot change it - then ensure your mental health and motivation levels are helping you become simply the best person you can strive to be.

An interesting site to visit is the American Stress Institute Website which provides helpful newsletters, knowledge sources, and access to resources to help improve your organization’s knowledge of managing stress.

Our research in creating collaborating cultures has a foundation of creating positive leaders. By thinking positively - you have the power and control to change your experiences by changing your attitude about them. Developing optimistic perspectives vs negative self-talk patterns are critical skills to develop to avoid seeing the glass half-empty - as well when you think positively you are more productive and less stressed, and hence happier with your life. In all starts, however, by knowing who you really are and what you really what out of life.

Each person is unique and there are certain features of your personality that make some jobs a better fit than others. If you’re in a job that’s not well-suited for your personality, you may be putting yourself under unnecessary stress every day you go to work. The following are some good questions to ask yourself:

* Do you like to work toward deadlines, or do you like your tasks to come in a relatively steady stream?
* Do you like to work as part of a team, or independently?
* Do you like things to be structured and routine, or loose and variable?
* Do you enjoy being a ‘big fish in a small pond’, or would you like to be a ’small fish in a big pond’? (Meaning, would you like to be a small part of a large company or a large part of a small company, or something else?)
* Do you believe in what you do, and is it important to you that you do?
* Do you like lots of change?
* Do you like lots of travel or prefer to be working close to home?

Knowing who you are and then selecting the corporate culture that will allow your special talents to soar in is an important leadership skill to develop. Having mentors and advisors in your career path can also help ensure you make the right decisions. I know personally from my own career experiences had I asked the tougher questions I would have avoided making some mistakes in my career journey. However - we learn from mistakes and stress can help us make the tough decisions to change our current reality.

We all experience some level of stress in our careers - learning how to be in control of it on your terms and avoid unhealthy stress is what having more emotional intelligence is all about. As leaders competing in the war for talent - we have a responsibility to create healthy organizational cultures where stress is healthy and not a business productivity killer which is plaguing North American businesses.

For more information you can also visit our human performance and talent management website at Helix Talent for more information on careers that we are helping our clients recruit for or learn more about our Helix Talent Service offererings see
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