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CCT Lecturer, Laura Barthel, Featured in BizLex Article

Laura Barthel

Midway faculty collaborate on worthwhile compendium

by Paul Sanders | August 16, 2012

Collaboration, working together to achieve a common goal, can be challenging for any business organization. When that organization is an academic group whose goal is to share knowledge and learning, as well as build consensus, the challenge can be daunting.

That’s why, when done successfully, it is particularly noteworthy. Solutions: Business Problem Solving, edited by Eric Bolland and Frank Fletcher and written by the business faculty at Midway College, is an example of how a team can succeed brilliantly at addressing a common goal — finding answers to business questions.

Collaboration requires leadership and Bolland and Fletcher appear to have provided it in ways that released the collective intelligence and capabilities of a distinguished team. The result is a fresh and compelling guide that can be used by anyone with business needs, from executives to students.

“It is really remarkable that any college faculty could pull something like this off,” said Fletcher recently. “Our division operated in a team culture, and people focused on the bigger picture. This is something we teach our students, so we have to practice it.”

The book is geared to help “problem solvers,” Fletcher noted, including anyone who works in or deals with an organization. People can keep the book on their desks and go to it whenever they need answers to problems they are facing, he said. As such, it can be used both by academics as well as businesses and organizations.

Chapters are built around common business questions that came from Kentucky business professionals, the Midway College Business Advisory Board and others.

Questions were screened by the authors and editors. The determination as to the best author for that area was decided based on background and experience, Fletcher said.

Organized by functional area of business, the book’s order allows the reader to turn to the chapter that deals with the particular subject in question.

Among the strengths of each chapter is the inclusion of a broad base of tools that can be used to problem solve. More than 50 tools are provided to help the reader gain understanding of an issue or problem, as well as determine a solution. A table found in the introduction outlines the major tools found in each chapter. In addition, each chapter cross-references other chapters.

The esteemed writing team included 15 Midway College business faculty from both the undergraduate and MBA programs. The author bios are listed in the front of the book and for good reason: reading through them gives a sense of the impressive depth of expertise and experience of this group. Like a patient who chooses the best possible team of doctors before surgery, the reader can’t help but want to choose this team for business procedures.

Solutions begins, appropriately enough, with a chapter on problems and decision making, by Wendy Hoffman. In addition to the aptness of this topic as the book’s starter, Hoffman’s reader-friendly style sets a tone for the ensuing chapters.

The question-and-answer process set up in this first chapter has been carefully followed throughout the book. Each chapter also includes highlighted problem solving tips, appropriate models and functional charts. As editors, Bolland and Fletcher have maintained a disciplined, uniform approach, resulting in an easy-to-understand and solution-filled book.

The chapter on leadership by Sal Mirza and Fletcher approaches many of the perennial questions on this topic. Beginning with the basics of defining leadership, it discusses the importance of critical thinking and decision making. The chapter aptly covers a myriad of topics surrounding leadership assessment and development in a concise, meaningful way.

Also insightful and succinct is the chapter on communications by Karen Clancy and Linda Eldridge. The authors begin with a foundational basic: what are the essential components of communication? Once established, they expertly provide a quick but concise insight into the areas of feedback, active listening and a number of other communication basics. The applications provided for presentations should be of particular interest for many readers.

The chapter on strategy by Bolland and Jerry Wellman is an excellent primer that builds on the strategic theories put forth by Michael Porter. Bolland and Wellman put the focus on the everyday need for business strategy in ways that consider both what the strategy should be and who should formulate it. They provide insights that can benefit any level manager.

Other chapter topics on competitive intelligence, identifying and serving customers, distribution, accounting, finance and information technology are among those that make this book a near-encyclopedic rendering of business.

Editors Bolland and Fletcher and the Midway College team have given us an extraordinary blueprint for building success in business.

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Published on August 28, 2012

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