Holistic Management

Holistic Management2023-06-02T13:39:15+08:00
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”Aristotle

In 1926 statesman and scholar, Jans Christian Smuts coined the term holism in his book, Holism and Evolution, from the Greek holos meaning whole.

Allan Savory developed Holistic Management based on the principles of holism, as a management process that considers the ‘whole under management’ whether that is a family, business, organisation, farm or landscape.

Holistic Management comprises a decision-making framework that facilitates actions that align with an individual’s or organisation’s Holistic Context – their vision for the future of the whole they manage, which includes environmental and social ecosystems.

The process emphasises the integrity of the ‘whole’ rather than focus on any one aspect like finances, and is suited to manage complexity found in natural ecosystems, national parks and farms.

A focus on the integrity of the whole aligns holistic management with the principles of Regenerative Leadership, that considers not only the financial implications of decisions but social and environmental implications too.

Although Holistic Management was originally developed by Savory to restore degraded landscapes and/or prevent further land degradation and desertification, the principles apply equally to people living in urban communities who manage a diverse range of enterprises and small land holdings.

Holistic Management has five main elements: 1) the Holistic Context and decision-making framework, 2) Holistic Financial Management, 3) Holistic Land Planning 4) Holistic Planned Grazing for people and organisations that manage livestock and 5) Monitoring.

Holistic Planned Grazing aims to regenerate grasslands by mimicking a natural system. Large herds of ruminant animals on the grasslands of Africa were subjected to predation. Lions kept buffalo and antelope moving and in tightly bunched herds to prevent overgrazing. Holistic Planned Grazing of domestic ruminants mimics this process and is essential to restore landscapes that are brittle tending (low humidity at ground level throughout the year). The Brittleness Scale is arguably Allan Savory’s greatest contribution to landscape restoration.

Savory recognised Holistic Financial Management was needed to prevent plans to restore landscapes from being sabotaged due to lack of funds. Distinct from regular financial planning, Holistic Financial Management focuses on enterprise profitability we plan profit before we plan expenses.

People often get into difficulty in their business because they fail to monitor the effects of their actions closely enough. The need to monitor and adjust plans is an essential element of Holistic Management.

Consequently, plan becomes: Plan ➤ Monitor ➤ Control (Adjust) ➤ Replan.

As we monitor, adjust and replan continuously the ‘whole under management’ will spiral upwards toward our Holistic Context (see Figure below).

Figure: Planning, taking action and monitoring towards the Holistic Context for the Whole Under Management.

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