Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.
Todd Henry, closing general session speaker at ASAE's 2015 Great Ideas Conference, discusses the benefits of helping employees stay effective for the long run, such as innovation and value creation.
"Success in emptying yourself of your best work each day depends on your ability to define the right battles and do the small but critical tasks that will help you progress toward your true objectives rather than just the ones others expect you to strive for," writes Todd Henry in Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day.
To attain that sweet spot, professionals must devote time, energy, and resources to three action areas at work: mapping (planning and strategy tasks), making (execution-oriented tasks), and—most underrated—meshing ("the work within the work").
Meshing is the "in between work we have to do," such as building culture or doing self-development, Henry says. "You can get away with not doing it for a while, but it's going to catch up with you, because you're not availing yourself of opportunities to grow toward what's important to you."
For associations, Henry urges a shift to become less obsessed with efficiency innovation and more focused on helping employees become and stay effective over the long term.
"The reality is that a tremendous amount of value we create as organizations is not efficiency innovation when we're focusing on new-market innovation and new ideas," he says. "The best question is, 'Are we sacrificing long-term effectiveness on the altar of short-term efficiency?' If we're treating employees in ways that show we only expect results now, they're going to behave in ways that show efficiency, such as trying to produce more with less, rather than doing incredible inefficient but highly effective activities that lead to long-term innovation and value creation."
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Marathon Efficiency."]