Richard Simpson, professor of strategic management, stressed the importance of ethics and long-term planning in business management for his last faculty lecture Tuesday in the President’s Dining Room.
He said strategic planning is beneficial to individuals planning their career, people working in the government, non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses. Through carefully planning, organizations can avoid unintended consequences.
“Strategic planning is not about predicting the future, but about being prepared for it,” Simpson said.
Simpson also addressed the importance of critical thinking. He said that students, particularly undergraduate, are not taught critical thinking skills. As a result, they create echo chambers for themselves on social media and only listen to those with political views similar to their own. He said that professors can change this by offering more opportunities for students to critically engage in what they are learning.
“We have students who come here as undergraduates, they don’t know anything about critical thinking,” Simpson said. “They’re taking multiple choice, true or false tests, fill in the blank. If it’s knowledge that you want to memorize, those tests are fine, but to really understand how these different concepts all come together and how we are going to use them requires us to critically think.”
Simpson said not only are ethics and long term planning essential for businesses, but they are intertwined. An unethical plan could hinder long term success because of the consequences the business could face if the public objected to what the business has done. When an individual or a corporation only thinks of themselves, they resort to short-term planning, making only short-term gains at the expense of long term goals, he said.
Simpson also talked about the importance of evaluating demographics, trends, and one’s own resources and capabilities when determining a long term plan for a business. When implementing plans, one should be open to monitoring the plan for mistakes and admitting a failure when one exists.
Examples of strategic planning that exist at the University are program reviews of administration plans, college and administrative department plans, University-level plans, and the university plan as it conforms to the values it espouses.
Simpson recommended that the university require all undergraduate students to take a course in business ethics to prepare them. Additionally, the university should encourage collaboration of students with different backgrounds, rather than let them choose like-minded working partners for assignments.
“Students want to self-select to be in teams and work on projects,” Simpson said. “We need to have some background on the students and assign them to different groups so that totally different backgrounds are working together, because this is the way the real world is, and you’re going to have to reach some consensus in that group in order to be successful in whatever that project is.”
Simpson concluded the lecture by thanking the University for over 20 years of experiences.
“You can have short term gain, but ultimately it will catch up with you,” said Al Clark, professor of humanities. “So if you want to have a sound organization, whether it be a business, a governmental department, or an institution like a university, you have to build it on a firm foundation.”
“I like how he noted that critical thinking isn’t really taught anymore, it’s not incorporated a lot, and I think it should be and he was kind of working towards trying to see that happen,” said Taylor Francis, freshman mathematics major.
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.