Monday, December 30, 2013

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2013

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As we end another year, here's a look back at the five posts on this blog that received the most page views in 2013.

1. Stop Calling It Strategic Planning
This was #3 on last year's list, and was originally posted in January 2012. It was inspired by the take-down of strategic planning in Humanize, and in it I pledge to stop using that term to describe the messy, constantly evolving process my association uses to determine our direction and set our objectives. In laying out the guidelines that govern our activities, I realize that only one term makes any sense--association management.

2. No One Knows How to Make a Computer Mouse
A newcomer to the list, this one was originally posted in February 2012. It contains a link to a TED talk video featuring Matt Ridley, who makes the case that innovation and progress depend on the accelerating exchange of ideas and information, not on the expertise or creativity of any single individual. To make his point, he uses the example of the computer mouse--a piece of technology we all depend on and that has transformed our world, but which contains so many parts and underlying technologies that no single person on the planet could construct one entirely by themselves. In my commentary, I compare this to the association environment, in which I say the role of the association leader is not to come up with the bright ideas, but to bring together and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information so that the bright ideas emerge.

3. Don't Rush to Fill the Silence
This was #1 on last year's list, and was orginially posted in May 2012. It describes a lesson I've learned about what a leader can learn from silence, and how that opportunity will be lost if one rushes to fill it. Remember, it is not the job of the leader to have all the answers, only to identify all the real problems.

4. Member Engagement Solution #1: Don't Forget the Fun
Another newcomer to the list, originally posted in July 2012. It is part of a series on member engagement I did, based on a WSAE Innovation Circle I led on the topic, and which culminated in two webinars (available for viewing here and here) and an in-person presentation at ASAE's Membership and Marketing Conference. The first of ten "solutions" to the challenge of increasing the engagement of members in association leadership and activities, it makes the case that to be truly engaging, association activities and volunteer tasks must include an element of fun.

5. Things We Must Do
The third newcomer to the list, originally posted in September 2012. In it, I describe my takeaways from a roundtable discussion I facilitated at the second annual WSAE National Summit on Association Innovation. Listening to the real barriers that people face in bringing innovation to their organizations, I realized that, depsite them, the only way to move forward was for individuals within those organizations to take action. Specifically, we need more people willing to: (1) Create a sense of urgency around the need for innovative change; (2) Educate our Boards about the rewards the come to organizations that successfully innovate; and (3) Create a process for sunsetting programs.

My thanks to everyone who has been reading what I've been putting up here. I hope you plan to stay engaged in 2014.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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