Monday, December 26, 2016

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

As we end another year, here's a look back at the five posts on this blog that received the most page views in 2016.

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 third 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 four of five 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. Action Plans Describe the Steps Staff Will Take
One of two newcomers to this year's list, this one was originally posted in November 2015, and is part of a series I was doing describing the strategy and execution process my association uses instead of traditional "strategic planning." Action plans are on the deep end of the execution side, coming only after strategic goals have been set and specific program objectives needed to bring those goals about have been identified. As the post title implies, action plans detail the specific steps a staff leader (i.e., the person responsible for ensuring that the organization achieves the program objective) will take in that quest. In the post, I provide examples and explore the two most common questions I get with regard to action plans: (1) When do you set these Action Plans? Is there any room for adjustment? How can you possibly chart a course of action for an entire year? and (2) Who's in charge of these action plans? What happens when they are behind schedule or not progressing at all? Who do you hold accountable? Actually, for a more complete answer to that second question, you need to also go here.

5. Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
The second newcomer to this year's list, this was originally posted way back in October 2011. It's one of the many "mini term papers" I tend to offer up, free of charge, to desperate freshman English majors the world over. My overall theses: Huxley views the human species as ultimately unable to govern itself, with the decay into totalitarianism an intrinsic and inevitable result of its own human nature. I confess to leaning that direction myself, but hold out some hope, recognizing that some of Huxley's darkest predictions about the "Big Man" determining the reality of the "Little Man" by clutching monopolistic control of their broadcast media were made before the rise of the Internet. Today, I speculate, "narrowcasting" through blogs and Twitter feeds and YouTube videos may have stemmed Huxley's fatalistic asymptotic slide towards fewer and fewer voices controlling the conversation.

My thanks to everyone who has been reading what I've been putting up here. I hope you plan to stay engaged in 2017.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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