Monday, December 29, 2014
My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2014
1. Stop Calling It Strategic Planning
This was #1 on last year's list, and #3 the year before that. It was originally posted in January 2012, and keeps getting a ton of traffic, including as the page through which the highest number of people enter my site. 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. The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling
A newcomer to these lists, this one was originally posted in May 2014, and summarizes my takeaways from the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. The book's subtitle is “Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals,” and it contains a deceptively simple and oddly compelling system for doing exactly that--with a lot of potential applicability for associations. Among the many practical tools it taught me was the need to create "winnable games" for your team to go after, with regular and visual scorecards showing the team's progress towards each goal. As the authors continually remind the reader, people play differently when they are keeping score. When they can see at a glance whether or not they are winning they become profoundly engaged.
3. The Chairman's Gift
Missing from last year's list, this one, originally posted in July 2012, made #4 on the list the year before that. It tells the story about how my association ensures that our outgoing Board Chair receives a gift that recognizes not just his service to the association, but the fact that he is an individual who has made a personal sacrifice to serve in that capacity. The true value is the message it sends to others who might be considering a similar commitment in their futures.
4. No One Knows How to Make a Computer Mouse
This was #2 on last year's list, 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.
5. I'm Not Building a Navy SEAL Team
Another newcomer to the list, originally posted in October 2014. I felt this one was going to strike a nerve when I was writing it. In it, I push back on the all-too-common practice of presenting ex-military officers as leadership examples at conferences and seminars. SEAL team members, Army Rangers and Green Beret all deserve our thanks for their heroism and service, but the challenges they face and the methods for team cohesion and development they use don't relate well to the world of association management. We should stop pretending that they do.
My thanks to everyone who has been reading what I've been putting up here. I hope you plan to stay engaged in 2015.
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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit www.ericlanke.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.