Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holistic Management - The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

Holistic Management, A New Framework for Decision Making, by Alan Savory

A Book Summary

In this summary of Holistic Management I quote freely from Alan Savory's book but summarize the main points. Kind of a Cliff Notes version. Don't be put off by the focus on grazing and agriculture. This is great stuff for managing your family or business.

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

No whole, be it a family, a business, a community, or a nation, can be managed without looking inward to the lesser wholes that combine to form it, and outward to the greater wholes of which it is a member. As a society we have had good success managing mechanical systems that can be viewed in isolation. We have had ever increasing problems with large environments and systems that are non-mechanical. Frequently, advice that appears sound from a specialists point of view (such as an engineer or economist) proves unsound holistically in a particular situation. A new generation must be trained to think holistically for themselves and then weigh and select expertise that really fits the case. Only the whole is the reality.

Viewing Environments in a Whole New Way

The second insight overturns the belief that all environments respond in the same way to the same influences. They don't. Specifically the old belief that all land should be rested or left undisturbed in order to reverse deterioration has proven wrong. Rest only works in a nonbrittle environment, rest in a brittle environment damages it.

This second insight raises the question of how grazing animals might provide the disturbance necessary to the health of a brittle environment, without overgrazing.

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