2011 Management Conference
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Senior executives at market research companies gathered at the CASRO Management Conference in Chicago on May 16-17 to discuss strategy, emerging business models, and critical operations issues.

Boaz Keysar, University of Chicago
To effectively lead, managers should move people gently and refrain from going against the grain and limiting choice, advised Boaz Keysar, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, in his keynote presentation, "Making Better Decisions". Providing insights on how the human mind works, he noted that people don't like to stray from the status quo since they perceive it to be a loss. This is among the reasons why many of us tend to stick with the default option on forms, he explained. Defaults also are an implied recommendation and most people don't want to change it. Such framing of propositions can make sales language more persuasive and had attendees scrawling notes.

Karyn Schoenbart, President & COO, discussed how The NPD Group promotes a culture of innovation throughout the company. She challenged attendees to answer specific questions to help determine what role innovation should play in their particular firm and to properly calculate ROI for such initiatives. "Do you really want to innovate? Sometimes it's best to be a fast follower," she said, noting the success of Google in perfecting, not inventing, Internet search. "Structured innovation" seems like an oxymoron, she said, but noted that if a company does not put structure around innovation initiatives they will not progress since creativity tends to be put aside in order to handle day-to-day tasks.

Keeping planning timelines brief and fluid has emerged as a trend. Vision Critical, for example, plans for its technology-focused ventures in six-month themes, according to Andrew Reid, President & Founder. Keeping the timeframe abbreviated and details limited enables fluidity, he noted. When seeking inspiration for innovation he suggested looking for parallels in other industries.

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