Monday, December 28, 2015

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

As we end another year, here's a look back at the five posts on this blog that received the most page views in 2015.

1. Stop Calling It Strategic Planning
This has been on every year-end list since 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
This one was originally posted in May 2014, and returns for a second placement on these year-end lists. It 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
Originally posted in July 2012, this one has now been on three of four possible year-end lists. 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. Rise of the American Nation by Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti
The only newcomer to this year's list, this was originally posted in February 2012, and summarizes the takeaways I gained from reading my high school American history textbook, twenty-six years after graduating from high school. The biggest takeaway of all? That our view of history is tainted by our perceptions and political preferences of the day we look back on it. It’s a little like how the future is always imagined in the context of the present. Just as it is difficult to imagine a future fundamentally foreign from the world we live in, it’s hard to look at the past without filtering it through our modern sensibilities and political framework. And personally, my own sensibilities and political framework have changed quite a bit since I was in high school.

5. No One Knows How to Make a Computer Mouse
This one, first posted in February 2012, has made the Top 5 list for each of the last three years. 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.

My thanks to everyone who has been reading what I've been putting up here. I hope you plan to stay engaged in 2016.

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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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