How Do You Teach Business?

I have been pondering the process of teaching business. I was told a couple of years ago by a student that business classes were bit boring; is that the case? I think in some cases that may be correct, but the topic itself? I am unconvinced!

Let’s think about the process of business. Business involves providing a product or service for someone in a cost effective manner. This leads to some kind of profit. The profit is a reward for the person who is taking the risk of providing a service to a customer. The process involves innovation, it involves creativity, and it involves efficiency. I get tired of people who complain about business and how it is corrupting the world, when business is one of the few common elements associated with human behavior. We have to have money to buy food and other things that we need to continue our existence. So all of us participate in business in some capacity.

When I say that business involves innovation and creativity, there are many examples throughout history of how this creative destructive process have made our lives easier. For several years I refused to have a microwave oven that was until we had a couple of friends stay with us until their house was ready to move into. They had a microwave oven and said they would be happy to place it in our kitchen for all of us to use. After they moved out, I immediately went and bought one. I have not been without a microwave since.

Now Jeff Bezos has announced that he plans on using drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes or less. If he pulls this off it will revolutionize how we order and receive the things we purchase. Talk about innovation!

Typically we organize business as either for profit or not-for-profit. Social Business usually aligns with for profit, while it appears Social Entrepreneurship is aligned with not-for-profit. Whether that is true or not, I am not convinced, but a not-for-profit business is just as much a business as a for-profit one. Thus, creativity, and operational efficiency, is just as important for meeting the mission.

Operational efficiency is critical to any type of business. How we use our resources, how we treat our people, and how we provide service to our customers will determine if we are going to last. There are many organizations that have learned that lesson. Proctor and Gamble has been around forever, as have the Salvation Army. They have both stayed truth to their mission, performed well, and have been rewarded with continued customer participation.

All businesses need creative people in roles of leadership. This creativity is more than just creating new products or services, it involves the creation of new ways of accomplishing the task. This also includes creating a vision that is understood and embraced by the people that need to accomplish the vision. This leadership includes making sure people feel valued as they work each day.

Business leaders need to understand anthropology, psychology, sociology, Science, Humanities, and business theory. Business is the place where all human knowledge is practiced in a real life laboratory. In my previous career I used to see my place of employment as a lab to empirically research whether theories work or don’t in real life.

Those who attack business just don’t understand the all-encompassing nature of the process of providing goods and services for people. All of us participate in this wonderfully exciting process. This is why I love to teach business.

And that is my thought for the day!


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