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Leadership

Cutting Through Red Tape with Missouri State University’s Ryan DeBoef

Ryan DeBoef is the chief of staff at Missouri State University. We met up with him at Culture Counter for some kombucha and conversation about how to cut through red tape and get things done.

By Ettie Berneking

Mar 2021

Ryan DeBoef
Photo by Brandon AlmsRyan DeBoef has been with Missouri State University since 2011. Before that he worked at Husch Blackwell. Purchase Photo

“My job mostly fits into two buckets: community/government relations and planning and goal setting. The most important part of achieving goals is setting achievable goals… We talk with stakeholders to identify what they’re working on. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to set a goal of increasing the number of cattle if your guy working on cattle is actually trying to decrease the number due to a drop in beef prices.”

“You say daunting, and I say challenging. I think the recipe for getting things done involves positive relationships, persistence and the ability to accept change and set good strategy. You have to map things out at the front end and adjust as changes come up.”

“I think momentum is important. You achieve big success by stringing together smaller successes. Claim success and tell people about it.”

“Persistence is big. We identified an achievable goal of setting up a voting site [on campus], and I knew I wasn’t alone in wanting this. Other universities across the nation have done this. I knew there was a way to get there. I also knew inside the university we had people who would say yes, ‘this is a good thing.’”


“You have to sometimes rely on those positive relationships you’ve created to get you through. And sometimes you have to go over someone’s head; you have to be sparing with that. You can’t do it all the time, or you will not be long for this world… Make sure you already have support where you need support.”

“I think a lot of people wanted to make [the polling place] happen but couldn’t see how to get it across the finish line. Sometimes you have to break some eggs. In the end, we would all have something we could be really proud of, so any hard feelings went away. That’s a lesson on getting things done— when you have to push hard, sometimes the result will wipe away the hard feelings.”

“People talk a lot about strategic relationships. I’m not a fan. It sounds like you’re just trying to get something. I’m talking about real relationships, like friendships. And you can’t develop friendships by just choosing the right people.”

“If you’re sacrificing the relationship to get something done, you stop and patiently wait. You don’t sacrifice the relationship, that’s just a rule.”

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