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Today’s column comes from a question submitted by Search Engine Journal reader Melvin, from Vlaardingen.

Melvin asks:

“Could you please explain what the best content silo/interlinking structure is if you have a lot of informational content?

I’m assuming you can’t link to 30 different articles from one page.

In addition, it’s almost impossible to come up with so much different anchor text. Any tips?”

This is a great question, and one that I’ve come across a lot in recent years with clients – even more so since topic clusters and semantics started to become a mainstream trend in SEO.

What Is A Content Hub?

Firstly this type of strategy goes by many names, including content hubs, hub and spoke content, content silos, content moats, topic clusters, learn hubs, semantic clusters…

At their heart, they are all the same premise and follow a structure not too dissimilar to the below:

You can read more about how to develop the idea and put together the necessary keyword research for a hub and spoke content hub in this article.

Hub/Silo Internal Linking Structures

Back to Melvin’s question.

The best internal linking strategy for content hubs I’ve found covers three key objectives of the content silos themselves, these being:

To support and provide authority to the domain for the key commercial search terms that other pages are targeting.

To provide relevancy for TOFU (top-of-funnel) and MOFU (middle-of-funnel) search terms relating to your product service.

To act as further education resources for users, empowering the need for your solution.

Because of this, these hubs need a variety of linking structures, and to link internally to other pieces of content on the website (commercial, blog, support) that have the right context and perspective (making the link useful).

This is also where categorization can play a big part.

When building out large informational content centers, I take the mindset of treating them as their own microsite, and that they follow their own set of guidelines (and, in some cases, even templates).

In John Mueller’s statement, he addresses the issue that excessive internal linking on a single page:

… makes it harder for search engines to understand the context of the individual pages within your website…

Meaning the search engine has reduced context and signals to discern a page hierarchy and content architecture.

But there are techniques that both make sense from a user and search engine perspective in ensuring all your content is linked to effectively.

This linking strategy starts at the planning stage, as you want to make sure your “spokes” are working for each other, as well as the hub.

An example of this in action is the Cloudflare Learning Centers, the first of which we helped put live towards the end of 2023 and covering the topic of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).

These feature internal links at a template level, secondary navigation, custom footer, and placed internal body links.

Internal Content Links: Commercial

One of the points I emphasize when brands are creating big content hubs is to not mix intents or perspectives.

As these content areas oftentimes target informational intent queries, or TOFU/MOFU queries then shoe-horning in sales pitches, CTAs, and branded references isn’t natural and devalues the content from the user perspective.

Not overly branded, or major visual CTAs.

Come at appropriate junctures in the content, where it may make sense to encourage a user further down the funnel based on the query(ies) that section of content has answered.

Anchor text from the hub and spoke to commercial pages matches queries that have a transactional or commercial intent, and aren’t general informational queries.

Following these guidelines helps link between the spokes in a natural way, as well as begin to pass any value gained by the hubs through perceived expertise, backlinks, and contextual relevancy towards the commercial/conversion-focused pages.

Template Linking

Making use of the template for your hub and spoke internal linking is a fantastic way to both add user value, and create natural linking hubs to prevent excessive unnatural internal linking that causes issues for Google.

The Cloudflare Learning Center templates are adapted from other page templates to include:

A secondary navigation menu localized to the learning center.

A “related content” sidebar section.

Internal body links.

Localized HTML footer.

First, let’s look at the secondary navigation menu:

This is easy to make and incorporate into a page template.

If you’re on WordPress it can even be coded as a new menu location and modified in the CMS.

This is both user-friendly and a natural internal linking “hub” for Google and other search engines to follow.

For more contextual links to help Google further understand hierarchy, there is a “related content” section on the sidebar.

Again, this is helpful for users but also helps interconnect specific documents in the hub without spammy lists of links.

The final customized template element is the HTML footer.

This is different from the rest of the website and is localized to each of the hubs.

These footer sections also act as pseudo HTML sitemaps, and HTML sitemaps are still a fantastic asset in helping the crawlability and discoverability of your content.

Eli Schwartz does a great job of explaining this in his article here.

In Summary

There are a number of different ways your can inter-link your hub and spoke content, and because the hubs are of your own design you can make use of the above tactics and adapt them to your needs.

I’d also not be afraid of linking outside of the hub and spoke model, especially if it’s to other resources (such as the blog) that adds value to the user, and also helps give Google further context between your hub/spoke content and the wider website.

I hope this answers your question, Melvin!

More resources:

Featured Image: marekuliasz/Shutterstock

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Should We Redefine Classroom Management?

We’ve been very impressed with the collaborative movement that’s happening on Twitter, where you can find a weekly open forum discussion called #edchat . Each week, educators from around the world debate, ruminate, and brainstorm on the top issues of the day.

Shelly is a technology teacher trainer and social-media consultant from Stuttgart, Germany. On Twitter, she’s known as @ShellTerrell and is an #edchat coordinator. One of this week’s topics was classroom management, a lively discussion with a lot of insights and ideas. Here’s Shelly’s take.

We’d like to bring a bit of these discussions to you. Every Thursday, you’ll hear from a guest blogger from #edchat — and if you’d like to join in on the #edchat fun, here’s a post from our first guest blogger, Shelly Terrell, on how to to get involved.

–Betty Ray, Community Manager (@EdutopiaBetty) and Elana Leoni, Online Membership Coordinator (@elanaleoni)

During Tuesday’s #edchat (January 5), educators discussed what works and doesn’t work when managing student conduct in the classroom. I remember feeling nervous when my principal observed my classes. My students and I would try to model the ideal class.

The students were silent, sat straight in old wooden desks too small for them, and raised their hands while I lectured. Every other day, students scattered all over the room, working in groups on their various projects. Some shared our one computer. Other groups stood by the whiteboard, brainstorming ideas. Some students worked silently at their desks. I walked around the room and facilitated.

This is not the ideal way of teaching for most, but my English-language learners’ high test scores and incredible achievements motivated me to continue teaching this way.

After #edchat, I was anxious to read my colleagues’ thoughts. Many of them did not believe the best way to manage students is to keep them busy and silent. Here were a few of the ideas shared:

@Readtoday: There is no such thing as an “I don’t care student” — only an “I don’t know what you are interested in” teacher.

@Andycinek: An active/engaged student is always well behaved.

@NicolRHoward: Are silent classes really better managed, or are they “controlled” better? Classroom management requires balance and student engagement.

@Elanaleoni: Mixing up your teaching styles is a good way to keep students involved.

@Evab200l: Sometimes I prefer the noisy ones; a lot of good work is produced then.

@Msmithpds: Then why do we expect children to sit still all day and expect proper behavior with 100 percent attention?

@Bedellj: Setting up stations might be helpful. A computer would be one of several activities.

@Awksome: Completely agree. Not championing lecture style. I’m not really a fan. It certainly has a time and a place, though.

@Hoprea: Some noise is our friend, and it’s very necessary. But noise is different from talk and discussions, in my view.

@Doctorjeff: Class management needs to reflect the human experience of learning. Learning is a joy!! A classroom needs to be joyful.

@Parentella: A joyful experience to me would be one where the students are engaged and discussing the subject they are interested in.

@Morsemusings: Teach children how to manage conflict.

I am excited other educators have redefined what a well-managed classroom looks like. Perhaps it is not a bunch of silent students busy with textbook work? Perhaps it is one where students share ideas, test them in various ways, and collaborate with their peers?

Perhaps it is one where students are engaged and so excited about the material they are speaking to each other or helping each other with projects? Perhaps it is a teacher walking, around helping students draw conclusions? What do you think?

Check out the rest of the #edchat transcript here. If you have never participated in an #edchat conversation, please join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CET or at 7 p.m. EST/1 a.m. CET.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a technology teacher trainer and social-media consultant for language institutes, schools, and educational organizations worldwide. She focuses on providing professional development for developing countries and teachers English in Germany to students of various ages.

She also is the director of educator outreach for Parentella. Explore her Teacher Reboot Camp blog for tips on professional development and integrating technology effectively into the classroom. She can be reached via Twitter: @shellterrell.

When Should We Expect The Rumored Ipod Touch?

Where is the new iPod touch? It’s been 1,364 days since the last update that broke the 1,036 day streak of the previous iPod touch being sold. That’s an age that’s given new meaning to the clever caption engraved on the iPod touch in Apple’s marketing material: “You’re only as old as your playlist.”

If Apple doesn’t plan on replacing the aging iPod touch hardware with a new model, we’re entering the point in its product life where it should probably be discontinued. Fortunately, there’s hope for future iPod touch customers …

iPod touch was once an annual upgrade with new hardware released in the fall from 2007 through 2010. Then the fourth-gen model stayed on the market a bit longer, roughly 25 months, and the shift to a two-year upgrade cycle was viewed as a bit of neglect for the iPod touch. So was the two and a half-year gap until the current model.

We’re now approaching three years with the current iPod touch, and the rest of the iPod line has been discontinued. Should we expect a new iPod touch, or will the iPod brand be sunset with the touch joining the iPod classic, nano, and shuffle?

Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo certainly believes a new iPod touch is in the cards for 2023. So does Japanese blog Macotakara. Both have a history of accurately predicting Apple hardware releases. We just don’t know when in 2023, if that’s still Apple’s plan.

It certainly seemed like the iPod touch release was imminent back in March. Apple replaced the similarly neglected iPad mini 4 with a much more capable iPad mini 5 alongside the new iPad Air 3 on a Monday, replaced the 2023 iMac with a speed boosted 2023 model on a Tuesday, and released second-gen AirPods on a Wednesday.

You could reasonably guess that a new iPod touch release was scheduled for Thursday or Friday that week, but Apple’s hardware release extravaganza concluded with AirPods. (Apple did cancel the AirPower charging mat project the following Friday, just days after its March 25th services event.)

So if the iPod touch isn’t dead, it’s just sticking around in the product lineup until a let’s-face-it-slightly-spec-bumped version is ready, when might the iPod touch 7 show up?

Historically, iPods were September products, shown off alongside new versions of iTunes, save for the fifth-gen touch that appeared in October. The current iPod touch made a surprise appearance in the dead center of July.

For future iPod touch customers, that’s the grain of hope. Apple can release new hardware anytime it wants, and that sometimes means the middle of July like last year’s MacBook Pro revisions — or anytime in the year for that matter.

But if you’re anxiously awaiting a new iPod touch, it may be wise to consider the last iPod touch release date as a clue about this year as well. After that, then we can start questioning the rumors.

For some, the iPod touch still serves a sweet spot in the iOS product lineup. For my family, my daughter is still too young for an iPhone and uses the $329 iPad for learning, communication, and some games. The 9.7-inch iPad doesn’t fit in your pocket though (and neither does the 7.9-inch iPad in most cases), so the iPod touch is a fun solution for us.

Unfortunately, the battery inside her iPod touch died last year and I can’t bring myself to replace the old hardware with the same old hardware. The battery is serviceable, but for a $79 fee that could instead be applied toward the purchase of a new iPod touch … if Apple releases one.

The biggest problem with the current hardware (aside from speed) is that it simply can’t support Group FaceTime video calls due to the processor inside. Who knows what future software features will be forgotten when iOS 13 comes around later this summer.

Hopefully there will only be a few weeks between the first software beta and a new iPod touch actually arriving, giving iPod touch customers two months before a new version of iOS is actually released.

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Should We Search For Life On Mars Before Sending Astronauts?

Mars has water. Not just ice and snow, but liquid, flowing water. It’s salty and scant, but water is one of the essential ingredients for life on Earth—and although the Red Planet certainly wouldn’t be a cushy place to live, scientists think there’s a chance that single-celled organisms could be lurking somewhere on Mars. If we want to find it, we need to look in the places where it’s most likely to be; according to NASA, we need to “follow the water.”

Trouble is, most Mars spacecraft aren’t allowed to “follow the water,” because they’re not clean enough to enter the warm, wet “Special Regions” where Martian life is most likely to have gained a foothold. (Special Regions are defined by the International Council for Science’s Committee on Space Research, under their planetary protection policies.) The logic is that if we send a dirty spacecraft into one of these Special Regions, Earth microbes could also thrive there, contaminating Mars and making it so that if we ever do discover microbial life on Mars, we won’t know whether it’s native to Mars or imported from Earth.

Our spacecraft aren’t clean enough to safely enter the “Special Regions” where Martian life is most likely to be.

If NASA is serious about sending astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s, then it’s important to get a yes or no answer to this age-old question before humans drop in and make a mess. Yes, we’ve probably already contaminated Mars to some extent with our previous spacecraft, but humans are a lot harder to sterilize than machines.

“Once we send humans to Mars, it will be really, really hard to avoid contamination,” says Nilton Renno, an engineer and astrobiologist at the University of Michigan. “Humans would take a huge number of microbes with them. They would leak out of a spacecraft and some of them would potentially end up in Special Regions because of transport by wind.” Plus, he adds, “if humans go to Mars, they would want to explore the most interesting regions”–like the ones with water in them.

Currently, the only planned mission capable of letting us test for life before astronauts arrive in the 2030s is the Mars 2023 rover, and it cannot be sterilized thoroughly enough to enter the areas where Martian life is most likely to be lurking.

Shouldn’t We Have Found It By Now?

In the 1970s, the twin Viking landers were the first NASA spacecraft to touch down on Mars, and the first to test for life there. The answer they sent back was a very anticlimactic “maybe”. One of the tests found evidence for metabolic activity, but the others didn’t find organic materials—the stuff that living things on Earth are built from.

As the “Mars has life” headlines faded, a 15-year hiatus in Mars exploration followed in Viking’s wake; taxpayers don’t like spending money on inconclusive experiments.

When NASA finally did resume Mars exploration, they took a less direct approach—instead of looking for life, spacecraft began searching for conditions that could be right for life, either in the past or present. The Curiosity rover’s goal, for example, is to “assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.”

View from Viking lander 1

In the 1970s, the Viking landers searched for life on Mars, but the results were inconclusive.

In 2011, a team of scientists suggested that maybe Viking actually did detect organic material on Mars. NASA, having never been to Mars before, didn’t realize that the Martian soil is rich in perchlorates, which break down organics. The team asserts that the remnants of organic materials, which were disregarded as Earthly contaminants, were actually the cremated remains of Martian organics. That’s no guarantee of life on Mars, but if organics are there, they would seem to increase the chances that life could be there too.

Make no mistake: Mars is a harsh place. It’s cold, and perpetually zapped by harmful radiation. Yet there’s promising chemistry in Martian soil that suggests microbial organisms would have food to munch on, and water ice is present at the poles and underground. On Earth, virtually everywhere there’s water, there’s life.

“Harmful Contamination”

The phrase “avoid harmful contamination” is open to interpretation. We don’t know whether there’s life on Mars, or how our microbes could potentially impact it.

“If we don’t have the information, we won’t know the consequences.”

International science organizations have decided that testing for life on Mars is not an absolute precondition for sending astronauts, but it’s a good idea. “There has not been a consensus as to whether we should,” says Catharine Conley, a planetary protection officer at NASA.

If there is life on Mars and we don’t know it, we could put Martian life at risk from our own biology—on Earth, moving a species from one region to another can cause disastrous results. What happens if we accidentally introduce an invasive species across interplanetary space? Conversely, Martian life could also endanger Earth and/or the health of our astronauts.

“If we don’t have the information, we won’t know the consequences,” says Conley. “It’s safer to explore places when you know more about them.”

NASA aims to put the first humans on Mars in the 2030s

Stringent Requirements

The Viking mission set the standard for spacecraft cleanliness. At the time, scientists expected to find life on Mars, so the landers were disinfected and baked at up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time, getting the spore count down to 30. Future spacecraft with the goal of testing for life would also need to go through that baking process–which means they have to be designed to withstand oven temperatures.

Today, before a spacecraft goes into space, it faces a battery of sterilization techniques, including chemical assault and UV rays. Even still, a rover like Curiosity is allowed to launch carrying as many as 300,000 bacterial hitchhikers. In order to make a spacecraft clean enough to enter one of Mars’ Special Regions, the team would need to get that number down to 30. That can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. (Some researchers have argued that the strict standards are overcautious, to the detriment of Mars exploration.)

Sterilizing spacecraft thoroughly enough to enter a Special Region would add significantly to a mission’s cost. About a decade ago, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) concluded that it would cost about $100 million to retrofit the Mars Exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity with heat-resistant materials, to enable them to survive the heat-sterilization that’s a prerequisite to going in search of alien life. Conley says the process would be a bit cheaper for projects that are designed for ultra-sterilization from the start.

“It has to be cleaned throughout the life of the spacecraft,” says Renno, from the time the engineers begin putting it together in the cleanroom, to the time it’s strapped to the rocket that launches it. And even the rocket has to be decontaminated. “You have to make sure that everything from the lab all the way to Mars is clean.”


The ExoMars rover will carry a drill and life-detection equipment, but it won’t be able to travel into the areas where life is most likely to be lurking on Mars.

ESA’s ExoMars rover will land on Mars in 2023 to search for biomarkers that could indicate past or present life. The Mars 2023 rover launches in five years, with plans to collect samples of Martian soil that can be picked up later by an undefined mission that will bring the samples back to Earth, so scientists can test for life. However, neither ExoMars nor Mars 2023 will be clean enough to travel into a Special Region, and it is too late to upgrade them now.

So the results these spacecraft return will likely be inconclusive; a detection of Martian life could be a false positive caused by Earthly contaminants, while a negative finding doesn’t mean much since we didn’t check the places where life is most likely to be.

“It seems pointless to send missions to search for life into non-Special regions if the Special regions are the regions that are of interest for possible life,” says NASA planetary scientist Chris McKay.

Renno agrees. “If we’re looking for life, we should really go where life is most likely to be.”

Better Alternatives

NASA has no life-detection mission currently planned for launch—not one that would go into a Special Region anyway. Luckily, there’s still time to give it a shot before humans are supposed to arrive in the 2030s.

“It is actually not that hard to send missions to a Special Region,” says McKay. “There are special requirements and they have to be designed into the mission.”

One proposed mission is Icebreaker, which would drill into Mars’ north pole, where ice could be preserving the remains of ancient life. Led by McKay, the mission would be designed from the start to be sterilized thoroughly enough to search for life in Special Regions. If selected for funding, it could launch as early as 2023 for a cost of $450 million, plus launch costs.

Another BOLD proposal, the “Biological Oxidant and Life Detection” mission, would send six small probes to Mars to look for life. When the mission was proposed a few years ago, researchers estimated it could launch as early as 2023 and could cost less than $300 million, though they didn’t specify as to whether these spacecraft would be cleared to enter Special Regions.


Icebreaker’s drill has been tested in icy Arctic and Antarctic soils.

It’s certainly possible to design spacecraft with modern materials that can withstand baking during sterilization procedures, says Conley. Many military electronics are required to operate at temperatures at or higher than Viking had to withstand in the cleanroom. Still, the process requires a lot of care, since materials can expand or contract, or even break under extreme heat.

And of course, designing spacecraft components is just one part of organizing a life-detection mission. Funding will also be an issue, with NASA’s dwindling budget.

What may prove to be even trickier is deciding what’s the best way to test for life—should we look for DNA-based life, for example, or would Martian life be entirely different from our own biology?—as well as interpreting the data we get back. Scientists are still debating whether the Viking landers detected life on Mars back in 1976. If we want to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, we can’t spend another 40 years arguing.

Concept drawing of the first human explorers on Mars

Turn Your Business Into An Innovation Hub

The Process of Business Innovation How to use a strategic approach to creative thinking

It’s the secret everybody wants to know: how do you come up with that killer idea? When will that flash of inspiration come that turns you into the next Steve Jobs, the next Mark Zuckerberg? Every business, every entrepreneur, is desperately waiting for a shout of “Eureka!” in the tub—and record profits.

The truth is, innovation is more than a moment of genius; it’s a process through which that idea becomes a value-creating product. Take tax software company Intuit. In 2011, Intuit announced the national rollout of a breakthrough app that allowed users to file their taxes by smartphone. It wasn’t the brainchild of any single employee, but a team of experts from across the company. Intuit had started out looking for a way to help customers scan tax documents, but when its software and tax experts watched customers using their phones, they realized they didn’t have to stop at a glorified camera app. With prototyping, constant iteration, and field testing, they created the SnapTax app in just six weeks. It allowed users to file simple tax returns in about 15 minutes; within two weeks of its launch, SnapTax had knocked Angry Birds off the top of the iTunes app chart, according to Intuit’s CEO.

“There’s nothing routine about the innovation journey,” says Siobhan O’Mahony, a Boston University Questrom School of Business associate professor of strategy and innovation and a dean’s research fellow. “Most of the time, businesses are focused on replicating processes they’ve worked out that deliver great value in terms of products and services. We can teach people to operate more efficiently, we can teach them to operate more effectively, and we can give pretty precise prescriptions about how to improve along metrics that are already known and identified. But when we innovate, we break away from routine.”

She studies how companies and groups organize for innovation—that is, how they create environments that allow ingenuity to thrive while supporting institutional goals. Her research offers insights to both new and established firms about where innovative ideas come from and how we can transform those ideas into sources of value.

O’Mahony explores how organizations bridge the gap between the fluid, often unpredictable art of creativity and the refining and evaluating that are necessary to bring an amorphous idea to reality. “When we look at innovation, we see a replicable process, but it doesn’t look like you’d expect it to,” she says of her work. “It’s a dance between generating and cultivating—between letting a thousand flowers bloom and reining it back in.”

Identifying the replicable aspects of successful innovation drives O’Mahony’s research. Her findings have given rise to a number of best practices applicable across fields for all stages of the innovation process, from idea to product to marketplace.

Where do good ideas come from?

At the heart of innovation, of course, is an idea. But the innovation process actually begins before the idea, with two questions: why are we seeking to innovate in the first place? What is the need our organization seeks to meet?

“For the individual who wants to be more innovative, the first step is getting the problem right,” O’Mahony says. “The better you understand your problem, the better your solution is going to be.” This is one reason the best ideas tend to come from the people who are closest to the consumer or to the products: a comprehensive understanding of customers’ habits or the strengths and weaknesses of a product can lead us to identify a previously unmet need—the vital innovation practice known as “need-finding.” This is the breakthrough that renders superfluous the product or technology that our innovation replaces. A commercial airline pilot answered an unmet need among his colleagues by putting two wheels and a collapsible handle on a suitcase, and in so doing upended the luggage market. “Identifying the unmet need is the holy grail for innovation. Once that innovation is created, everybody’s suitcase under their bed and in their closet has no value,” O’Mahony says.

Need-finding requires “deep observation of human behavior,” O’Mahony says. Deep observation happens when you see your flight crew exhausted from lugging their bags from gate to gate. It happens when you’re at a party and the host is struggling to answer late guests’ texts by typing on a phone docked to her speakers—you realize that she needs the phone to be in her pocket, and you create the Bluetooth speaker. “Those deep insights of unmet need really come from taking stock of the behaviors and experiences around you and not trying to change them, but trying to design to them,” O’Mahony says.

Once a need is identified, the next step is to find a solution. This is the stage of a thousand ideas blooming. The more ideas—more numerous, more radical, more diverse—the better. O’Mahony uses the metaphor of a funnel. At the top of the funnel are the raw materials of innovation: the crazy notion, the surprising insight, the Hey, what if we tried this? “Most ideas will fail, and that’s okay,” she says. “That’s how the innovation process works. You take the ideas from the top of the funnel and iterate and refine them so that what comes out at the bottom is an innovation.”

Most great innovations aren’t completely fresh themselves, but originate as new combinations of things that already exist—Airbnb and Uber, for example, innovated by putting the renting of hotel rooms and hired cars into a new context. Encouraging lots of ideas from a broad range of people increases the chances of landing on one of these new combinations. According to an innovation theory known as the variance hypothesis, exposure to a wider range of ideas from different fields outside our usual frame of reference increases the capacity to innovate, and it applies at all levels of an organization. Teams that bring together people with diverse areas of expertise, experience, and perspective produce more, and more innovative ideas. The same goes for firms that look outside institutional walls—creating cross-industry partnerships or crowdsourcing.

But O’Mahony has found that the innovative value of our network is only as great as the quality of our contacts. In “One foot in, one foot out: How does individuals’ external search breadth affect innovation outcomes?” published in 2014 in the Strategic Management Journal, O’Mahony and her collaborators looked at innovation among the top engineers and scientists at IBM, one of the world’s largest holders of intellectual property. As the variance hypothesis predicts, the most successful innovators had broad, diverse networks that ranged across institutional and vocational boundaries—customers, suppliers, members of government, academics, competitors, and members of trade associations.

But O’Mahony also found that the innovators with the most impact were those who allocated more time to developing the individual contacts within their networks. The researchers with “thick” ties—those more intimate connections cultivated through meetings, site visits, and other in-person interactions—produced not only more ideas but more novel and useful innovations than those whose networks consisted of less robust ties, however diverse those networks may have been.

“After you’ve got the problem right, the second step for those who want to be more innovative is to get out of your chair and engage with the world,” O’Mahony says. “Talk to as many people as you can. And not just by email; I really believe context matters. Engage in real dialogue—in person, on site.”

Turning an idea into reality

Most innovations need time and space to evolve, and developing an initial idea into a successful product is a social process—team members work together, each raising questions and contributing solutions along the way. That’s what happened at Intuit with the SnapTax app. As MIT Technology Review put it in a 2011 article on the company’s product design process, “Regular employees were trained as ‘innovation catalysts’ who worked with teams on better strategies for assessing what customers wanted and coming up with ideas for how to provide it.”

Teams working on turning an idea into a product face a challenge unique to this process: how do we share a concept of a thing that doesn’t yet exist? “One of the things that matters to innovation is making sure that everyone who’s working on the product is touching the same elephant,” O’Mahony says. In a 2014 article for the journal Organization Science, “Managing the Repertoire: Stories, Metaphors, Prototypes, and Concept Coherence in Product Innovation,” O’Mahony and Victor P. Seidel of Babson College studied six product development teams as they created new tech devices, medical technologies, and automotive products. As each product was designed, the original concept needed to be continually reconsidered, refined, and redefined. Every day brought new decisions to be made, new questions to be answered. O’Mahony and Seidel looked at how team members made these decisions.

They found that successful innovating teams used three kinds of verbal and visual representations to communicate and maintain a consistent, coherent vision of their product. The teams used prototypes to communicate the product’s physical appearance. They also used stories that captured the essence of the problem to be solved by the product. For example, an anecdote about a company founder unable to carry all of the books and paperwork he needed on a transcontinental flight was the focal narrative for a team creating an e-book reader in a pre-Kindle era. The story encapsulated a central need the e-reader would fill and provided a reference point for designers: it had to be portable and able to handle a variety of content. Questions of device size, battery life, memory capacity, and user interface could be answered in the context of a user on a long flight.

Successful innovation teams also used metaphors or slogans to communicate key qualities of a product. For the e-reader team, the phrase “It’s not a computer, it’s a book!” became a touchstone to keep team members on the same digital page as they faced the daily decisions involved in creating their new product. Would content be displayed in a long block of text, via scrolling, or would it be formatted as individual “pages”? Designers chose the latter, to keep in line with the book metaphor. Would the device include a calculator? No, because books don’t have calculators.

The prototype, the story, and the metaphor function together as a “repertoire of representations,” says O’Mahony, to create a specific, shared vision of what the product will be.

But the process of bringing an innovation from idea to reality is a complicated one. Every step of the developmental process is affected by many factors, such as limitations around cost, feasibility, technical capabilities, and market demand.

O’Mahony and her colleagues identified a set of best practices to ensure that the collective vision evolves in response to these inevitable limitations. First, be clear about constraints. The idea-generating phase is the “more is better” part of the innovation process; now it’s time to rein things in. When everyone working on a team has their own idea for the grand possibilities of a product, consistency and coherence suffer. A metaphor like “It’s not a computer, it’s a book!” defines the scope of the product and provides a context for making design decisions.

Second, get rid of models that don’t work. If a slogan no longer captures the essence of the product, discard it. That handsome initial prototype showcasing an early, idealized version of the product? If it’s no longer an accurate representation of the product, replace it with a more realistic model.

Finally, as new prototypes, stories, or metaphors are created to replace outdated ones, give team members opportunities to ask questions and voice their opinions. Make sure disparities among individuals’ ideas about the product are addressed and resolved so that everybody is working from the same concepts, even as the product evolves.

Measuring success

Leadership needs to think critically not only about the sourcing and diversity of ideas being generated, but about how we select which ideas to move ahead and which to jettison. The key: don’t be too hasty. If we act too quickly to cut our losses, we risk missing out on promising innovations. We may not immediately see the market for a new idea; we may misjudge its potential value; we may see only the obstacles to an idea’s success and not the path that allows it to thrive. “I see so many companies that prematurely kill an idea, only to find a competitor launches that product within six months or a year,” O’Mahony says. “There is a gestation process to innovation. You have to let the little seedlings grow. Too many companies dump them out of the pot before they’re ready.”

To nourish the seeds of innovation, she says, we need to create “slack”—to free up resources, to make space for new ideas to gestate. That may mean giving time to employees to work on their own ventures, as 3M has done since its 15 percent program, which allows researchers to spend up to 15 percent of their paid time on projects of their choosing, was launched in 1948. It may mean allocating funding and resources, as JPMorgan Chase & Co. has done in establishing an in-house incubator for financial startups, offering entrepreneurs access to its knowledge and systems to support the innovation of technology solutions to industry problems. It may mean giving an idea to another team, doing deep field research, looking for other data, or simply leaving an idea on a back burner to simmer until a path forward becomes clearer. “You’ve got to create your sandbox,” O’Mahony says. “You need to create room to experiment, to allow new ideas to incubate and evolve and iterate and process. Whether it’s money or space or time, you need to create the slack resources—in the name of the future.”

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Cloudbet At 5: Who We Are & How We Got Here

Five years is an eternity in crypto. Since Cloudbet was first launched, the landscape has changed countless times One thing has been constant though-out, the community.

Win Bitcoin to celebrate our fifth anniversary

Cloudbet is born

How Cloudbet built trust

Rewarding the early players

What went wrong

What the future holds

These are the dates that made us.

October 2013 – Cloudbet is born – Bitcointalk makes the delivery November 2013 – Adjusting our limits November 2013 – Instant Withdrawals

January 2014 – Rewarding our earliest players

The Welcome Bonus was intended to be a short-lived promotion, but is still available to this day, though active players can expect a wider range of ongoing incentives across sportsbook and casino.

February 2014 – Cloudbet Live Casino launch

Each month we add more games to our casino. And as our range of online slots grows, the number of winners also increases.  Our casino has seen a number of successful players, the most impressive of which was the record 160 BTC ‘Troll Hunters’ winner, to players learning the ropes in the free to play area, our casino welcomes everyone.

May 2014 – Trust & Security

As much as we recognized the importance of gaining trust we also realized that we had to demonstrate that funds held by Cloudbet were secure, so the decision was made that Cloudbet would go to market offering cold storage as standard. If you’re not sure what that means you can read this article about why it’s important, but in short we keep all funds offline – except for those required to honor withdrawals – where they are impossible for hackers to reach. And we’ve done that since day one.

Security has remained a fundamental aspect of our service, and as recently as June of 2023 we took further measures to make accounts even more secure, adding SMS Verification. By registering your phone number to your account you get a further layer of security.

July 2014 – Live betting for the World Cup

As well as listening via communities like Bitcointalk we regularly survey our customers, and we consistently hear ‘we love your live betting options’ but equally ‘we want more’. We are listening, and are continually expanding live markets.

January 2023 – The First Steps For Localisation

Though Bitcoin has proven itself to be a global currency, we knew that as long as our site was only available in English, we wouldn’t be offering the best experience possible. That’s why in January 2023, we rolled out Korean and Indonesian translations for our site. This was followed by Turkish, Chinese and Russian. In our quest to bring bitcoin gambling to as wide an audience as possible, we’ll be looking to add even more in the coming months.

April 2023 – Bitcoin Cash & Fork Funds

Introducing a new currency might be enough for most sportsbooks. But not us. As another way of giving something back to our players, in the same month as we launched BCH as a currency on Cloudbet,  we honored the Bitcoin Cash fork. Every player who had bitcoin funds in their Cloudbet account at the time of the fork was granted corresponding Bitcoin Cash to match their bitcoin balance. If you were playing with us at that time, check your account, you might still have some of your windfalls. Adding Bitcoin Cash has proven to be a popular choice, with over 11,000 BCH paid out as winnings in our sportsbook since it launched, and players still place huge amounts of bets daily.

May 2023 – More than just a bitcoin betting site Getting things wrong

Thanks to the early improvements and the feedback from the community from our early adopters we saw incredibly rapid growth in the number of our users. It was an incredibly exciting time for us, despite bitcoin having a troubled year, we saw more players than ever before. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. We weren’t able to respond to our customer’s queries as quickly as we’d like. And there’s a good chance that some were frustrated by that. Even though we couldn’t sort the situation out as quickly as possible, it was a reminder that we had to invest in the right places.

What does the future hold?

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