Friday Five: #CASESummit takeaways

A picture of me taking a phone photo of me with speaker and author Guy Kawasaki during the 2013 CASE Summit. (Thanks, @CASEAdvance, for the photo.)
A photo of me taking a photo of me and speaker-author Guy Kawasaki during the 2013 CASE Summit. (Thanks, @CASEAdvance, for the photo.)

For an excellent recap of the 2013 CASE Summit, check out this Storify curated and posted by CASE’s Jen Doak (@jpdoak). CASE also has a collection of photos from the event on Flickr.

The 2013 CASE Summit, which wrapped up last Tuesday, was by all accounts a success. Record attendance, great presentations and presenters, positive comments all around, packed rooms for nearly every session and a new format modeled on TEDx that people seemed to appreciate.

I gleaned a lot of good ideas and inspiration from the event. Here are the top takeaways in terms of leadership, management and communication.

1. In our communications, we assume too much. According to one of our speakers (Frank Flynn, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford), managers tend to assume that the people we are sharing information with know what we do.

If something is obvious to us, we assume it’s obvious to them. That isn’t so. We tend to undercommunicate, Flynn says. He cited research showing that on 360 evaluations, managers are 10 times more likely to be perceived as undercommunicating than overcommunicating. And as Flynn also noted, communication is typically seen as the most critical skill a manager can have but is also the one on which we are judged most harshly.

The takeaway: Don’t assume people know what I know, and work on being a better communicator.

2. Routine matters. In higher education, when we want to attract attention, we usually devise something that will make a big splash. (That’s also true in other fields.) We launch marketing campaigns and capital campaigns. We introduce a new “brand,” complete with a new logo and graphic identity. The trouble is, if these big splashes don’t translate into routine behavior, then we are not as likely to have our messages stick. People notice the regular, not the irregular. (This again comes from Frank Flynn’s talk.)

The takeaway: If I want to get a message to stick, I must communicate it in a routine fashion and develop consistency in my behavior.

3. Default to “yes.” In Guy Kawasaki‘s presentation on “Enchantment,” he outlined the 10 steps anyone can follow to enchant their stakeholders. (Here’s a good summary of that list.) Many of those tactics resonated with me. But the one that I found most challenging was the idea of making “yes” my default response in any situation.

I worry about over-committing to people, projects, etc. I’m a classic “underpromise and overdeliver” kind of guy. But Kawasaki’s point is that “yes” opens the door to further discussion, while “no” slams the door shut.

Kawasaki posted something about this recently on LinkedIn: Do You Have A Yes Attitude? “A ‘yes’ buys time, enables you to see more options, and builds rapport,” he writes.

The takeaway: Learn to say “yes” more. Or at least, “not yet.”

4. Stories trump data. Andy Goodman‘s entertaining talk on the power of storytelling reminded us all that “numbers numb and jargon jars, but stories get stored” in our memories. Just as we tend to over-rely on the big splash for our communications, so we also assume that bludgeoning our audiences with data and facts will persuade them to support our cause. But data and facts serve us best when they are woven into our stories of real people.

The takeaway: Rely more on stories than data to communicate to audiences, but don’t be afraid to use data to support those stories.

5. We over-rely on broadcast messaging. Sending out mass email messages is not a very effective way of getting people to do something. One-on-one communications is far more effective. We all know this, of course. But what I didn’t know before hearing Frank Flynn talk about this is that broadcast messaging “diffuses responsibility,” sometimes to the point where none of the recipients feels any compulsion to act. When we get a mass email or other broadcast message, we think, “It’s not just me” they’re asking, so surely someone else will help. But when the message is customized and targeted to individuals, the individual thinks, “Oh, crap, they’re talking to me directly,” and feels compelled to act.

The takeaway: Rely less on broadcasting, focus more on personal communication.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

4 thoughts on “Friday Five: #CASESummit takeaways”

  1. This is a great post, I could write a whole page on this.
    1 reminds me of an article I read years ago, about negotiating with the Soviets, and how could they seem so alien and unrealistic. The answer (in a nutshell) was that both sides assume they are starting from the same page and they’re not.

    Your #2 reminds me of something I was thinking about this morning, I bought my motorcycle at one place, they sell auto parts too, but I never consider buying any parts there, I have a regular place to buy parts, that in my mind is the only place there is. A false assumption. Also years ago, I was at work, working at a dive shop in VIrginia Beach, trying to get these girls to sign up for my scuba class. After my schpeal, one turned to the other and said “Lets do it!, lets go to Lynnhaven and get certified”. I was like FUUUUUCK! Lynnhaven was the big dive shop, our competition, but in peoples minds, they were the only place. Hard to uproot peoples “Normal”..

    #3 Default to yes. reminds me of a book I read about the US Naval academy. The cadets get in big trouble if they ever say “I don’t know”. The correct response is “I’ll find out”. However, a lot of people have a hard time saying no, and say yes when they shouldn’t. Saying no is hard to do too.
    Also, “underpromise and overdeliver” is me too. Never heard it put that way. Just the other day my bosses boss asked me how a project was coming. I told him I was about half done when really it was 99% done.

    4-Facts are easy to remember when woven in a story. I kind of wrote one. My Very Eager Monkey Just Stole Ugly Neighbors Peanuts. It’s the order of the planets from the sun out. I made it up so I could remember. Not really pertinent to what you wrote, (None of this really is) but like said, one reminds me of the other.

    #5: For my business, I ran ads in the paper for a month, I got one phone call because of those ads. One. Definiely word of mouth is the way to go.

    I know none of this has anything to do with Higher Education, but it’s just my take on what you wrote and how it fits into things in my life.

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