A holistic approach to business

As waves of change sweep over the
business world, the most successful
people learn to ride the momentum.

In order to leverage opportunity, individuals have to develop a broad knowledge of
the business world and an acute ability to
understand how each part connects to
make up the whole.

“Taking a holistic approach to business is
basically the ability to successfully blend
the identification and integration of the
business process,” says George A. Redmond, program chair of the Business Administration Major at Franklin University.
“A qualified generalist who is capable of
understanding and integrating the major
functional areas of management, finance,
marketing, accounting, production, and
research and development will have a
great advantage. A strong business administration foundation coupled with a sound
general education base educates ‘the
whole person.’”

Smart Business discussed with Redmond the significance of taking a holistic
approach to business and how individuals
can develop this ability.

What are the components of a well-rounded,
holistic approach to business?

Some of the key components are a broad-based working knowledge of business coupled with the ability to think critically and
communicate effectively. This means possessing both business acumen and a sound
general education foundation. I see four
key qualities driving a holistic approach:

Competency: While employers expect
employees to learn on the job, they also
expect new employees to bring a certain
level of competency and a solid foundation
of knowledge so that their learning curve is
short and steep. These days, employees
must be proficient in many aspects of a

Productivity: Because business moves
at such a fast pace and innovation is the
norm, employees have to adapt quickly
and be almost immediately productive.
Developing solutions to new problems is
an essential part of a well-rounded business approach.

Innovation: Employees are expected to
come up with new answers to solve business dilemmas. The ability to find solutions
to new problems tends to involve thinking
out of the box. The key is to identify knowledge and expertise that reside in nontraditional sources and apply them to the business at hand.

Responsiveness: The true test of a professional is not the ability to respond to
routine problems efficiently, but the ability
to function effectively when the unexpected happens. Use of the well-rounded
approach requires the ability to quickly
grasp the pertinent dimensions of an unanticipated situation, assess its impact and
implications and take action to maximize
the benefits and minimize the damages.

How can professionals acquire a broad range
of business knowledge and tools?

One of the best ways is by obtaining a
broad-based business degree in business
administration. These students are exposed to every aspect of a business and
acquire a good working knowledge of each
area. This academic program prepares
people for any task ahead.

The business administration student is
provided a body of knowledge that is a blend of theoretical principles and practical applications. Students learn how to
conceptualize problem scenarios and to
develop solutions by transferring the
knowledge they have received. Once individuals have obtained their formal degrees,
they need to continue to see learning as a
lifelong activity.

Why is it crucial for companies to encourage
a holistic approach to business?

Businesses must focus on the holistic
approach in order to stay competitive. Most
companies have gone ‘lean and mean,’
which means employees need a broad
scope of business knowledge. The era of
the narrowly trained specialist seems to be
ending. Even the process of developing
business managers is changing because
businesses require a more versatile approach to innovation and problem-solving.

Why is it essential for employees to take a
multifaceted approach to business?

We live in an age of constant change, innovation and ‘right-sizing.’ Constant change is
the driver of the multifaceted, holistic
approach to business. An employee with a
strong and varied business education has
mastered this approach. These people are
ideal candidates because they’re highly
adaptable within the marketplace.

Ultimately, the goal of business education
is to develop versatile decision-makers
who will be better equipped to make quality decisions within a highly competitive
environment. Because businesses are fast-paced, they are looking for individuals who
will be able to hit the ground running.
Companies are seeking to hire business
graduates who are competent, productive,
innovative, and able to anticipate and
respond to crises.

GEORGE A. REDMOND, program chair of the Business
Administration Major at Franklin University, has more than 20
years of management and college-level teaching experience. Prior
to teaching full time, Redmond was a financial manager at Waters
Chromatography Division of Millipore Corp., a multinational
company. Reach him at [email protected] or (614) 947-6142.