Yes the 12 step system works. It has concepts that are actually much older than 2 years and the stuff still works.Right now the links in the BU blogs are very effective - more effective as mentioned above. A few good links the right way go a lot farther now because so many sites were wiped out!
Other than Google deindexing some sites last april and hurting some folks - if you follow the steps reasonably close you'll see it works.
You can make it as complicated as you want and there are more things you can do - but the goal is to get top rankings - not do MORE than necessary.
Do the basics and if that gets you on top you can move to another site or try to go for more related keywords instead of doing extra work that is not needed.
There are a few suggestions and considerations for after panda and penguin but the system is still the same.
See the blog for latest articles and tips. There are extra things you can do and some things to be aware of that will help you.http://blog.bloggingunderground.com/har ... p-ranking/
But that said - many of these tactics have been in the training for a long time - it's just they're more important now - for example LINK TEXT VARIATION.
I have talked about link diversity for over 7 years in my training stuff. It just so happens it's as important as ever to not be a robot and humanize your efforts.
And yes - social signals will help you - but are not always needed.
Start with the basics and if a site HITS IT BIG - develop it more and do more to keep it on top for your main keyword and to expand how many other keywords your site ranks for.
Unfortunately as far as cdigg and some sites - they were deindexed last April. It does happen but as long as blogs are indexed and the post has relevant words they will pass benefits to your pages.