Project 4 – Analysis

This is an Analysis of Holistic Management® as it pertains to the design of a personal Holistic Goal. My goals for designing a Holistic Goal are as follows:


  • Learn more about Holistic Management® through the creation of a Holistic Goal
  • Create a Personal Holistic Goal that embodies all the learning I’ve done and propels me toward a healthy and holistic future
  • Begin Holistic Financial Planning
  • Discover bridge-points for Holistic Financial Planning and Open Book Management
  • Begin using the process for testing decisions against my Holistic Goal
  • Start the process for expanding Holistic Management® within the wholes under my management


I started this analysis with a thorough read of Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making by Allan Savory and Jody Butterfield. There is little chance that I will be able to effectively capture the entire essence of this five hundred plus page book in this analysis, and it is not my intention to do so. I would rather focus on an analysis of the Holistic Management process as it pertains to designing my personal Holistic Goal.

Allan and Holistic Management International have set forth the following framework for designing and establishing a Holistic Goal:

Framework for Holistic Decision MakingLooking at the diagram it can seem complex and perhaps even a bit intimidating. The reality is that only a portion of this diagram pertains to the actual formation of a Holistic Goal. Much of this framework deals with the management strategies employed once a Holistic Goal has been established. For the moment, we only need to focus on the top two tiers of this framework.

Holistic Goal Focus

In the implementation and evaluation sections we’ll go over some of the other elements in the previous table.

Whole Under Management

Before we can begin to design a Holistic Goal we must first define the Whole that is to be managed. As Allan describes in his work, Holistic Decision Making requires us to think in whole systems. This, of course is difficult if not impossible to do completely. But, with practice, we can begin to recognize various systems as wholes unto themselves that exist inside larger wholes. An example of this might be a single cell that could be defined as a whole unto itself but is part of a larger whole that is an organ which, itself, is inside of a larger whole that is the human body.

When we are designing our Holistic Goal it is important to first define the Whole by which we are managing. In this case, I am writing a Holistic Goal for myself and so I must define the whole that is me. In the next section I demonstrate my personal path toward defining the whole of myself. For now, let’s stick to the analysis of the Holistic Management® Framework.

Allan describes the Whole Under Management to be definable by three major components. These are the pieces that help us to define and determine the rough edges of our whole. Obviously, every whole has many wholes contained with in it and itself is contained by a larger whole. In this case however, we can narrow our focus to just the whole that we are attempting to manage (the rest of the framework helps us to manage this individual whole in a way that is considerate and accommodating to wholes within it and the wholes for which it is contained by).

Decision Makers

The first area defining the whole is made up of all the people and elements that can influence the whole. These are the Decision Makers. In a business, this would pertain to all the managers and directors of the business – all the people who make decisions that influence the direction of the organization. This might even include staff members and customers if it is thought that they have a strong enough influence on the whole under management.

Resource Base

Next is the Resource Base for which the whole has influence. In this case we are considering both the tangible and intangible assets (aside from money which is described separately). For this section we are determining the resources that can contribute to the achievement of the Holistic Goal from the physical ownership of assets to the vast array of human resources available.

Money & Income Sources

Finally, there is the resource of Money. Allan saw this as important enough to define separately from the Resource Base. Part of the reason for this might be attributed to the fact that, in our definition of this whole, we seek more than to define just what money we currently have available, but also the sources of money available. This is a rather crucial element as it tends to draw out much more possibilities than one might imagine. It allows us to see a much broader picture of the opportunities available within the Whole Under Management.

The below mind map shows a depiction of how these things connect and interrelate:

Whole Under Management Mind MapElements of a Holistic Goal

The Holistic Goal itself is composed of several elements as well. Three crucial components combine to form a goal that can properly encompass the whole for which we have defined. These three elements are illustrated through statements that together form the Holistic Goal. The three statements are: Quality of Life, Forms of Production, and Future Resource Base.

Quality of Life statement

The Quality of Life Statement is an opportunity to define what quality of life you want for the whole that you have defined. This is valuable for several reasons. By defining the quality of life we want for ourselves, or the organization we manage, we begin to see how dependent  our quality of life is on the world around us. We cannot escape the fact that if we want to enjoy clean air, fresh water and healthy food… we need an environment that sustains those things. The Quality of Life Statement also shift the focus away from “I want a shiny new car” to what that shiny new car actually provides you, such as independence of travel and respect form peers (or whatever it happens to be that you expect the shiny new car can deliver). Often times, this results in us redefining our wants. Maybe what we really want is the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and that is something the car helps to facilitate. Maybe, we don’t actually need the car after all because, through the Holistic Management decision making framework, we’ve discovered more effective ways to enjoy the outdoors and have freedom of mobility that don’t compromise the bigger picture.

The Quality of Life Statement is perhaps the most critical aspect of the Holistic Goal. As you will see below, all the other components of the Holistic Goal hinge on how you choose to define the quality of life you want for the whole you are managing. For that reason, it is also very important to get this section right. This requires deep reflection and, if your whole includes more than just you, a lot of discussion. Fortunately, as Allan points out, there is no need to stress over getting it exactly right from the get-go. In fact, it is often better to start with a temporary statement that captures a general sense of what you want and move ahead than to get bogged down in the never ending process of wordsmithing. There is plenty of opportunity to refine and redefine the statement as you become more informed and the quality of life you really want becomes more apparent.

Forms of Production

The Forms of Production are the things that need to be produced in order to create the quality of life you have expressed. For example, if you listed happiness as part of the Quality of Life you would like to achieve you might need to produce things like “ample time spent with your family”, “time for meditation”, or whatever types of things make you happy.

Allan makes a case for listing the Forms of Production in general terms, explaining that too much specificity can prevent you from actually achieving what you want from your holistic goal. For example, if your holistic goal lists ‘financial security’ as something important you and, if you own a mango orchard, might list ‘profit from selling mangos’ as one of your Form of Production. This, however, would likely limit you when your mango crop has a bad season or markets fluctuate and cause the price of mangos to drop. If, on the other hand, you were to list ‘profit from meaningful work’ you would be much better off and would always look for ways to adapt to changing conditions to achieve your goal.

Allan also expresses the need to only list the “what” and avoid the “how”. What needs to be produce in order to achieve your Holistic Goal? The “how”, Allan points out, is the place people often find themselves when thinking about where they want to go, and where most disputes erupt. An example of this might be, if you had a goal to travel the world, and you listed a private jet as a form of production… “oh no, wait, a sail boat… maybe a car or a camel or…” What you really need to produce to achieve your goal is “safe means of transportation”. The particular type of transportation you might choose is something that will need to be tested against your holistic goal using the Holistic Management® Testing Guidelines which we will touch on in later sections.

So the basic rule here is to have a simple and broad focus about what really needs to be produced in order to accomplish the Holistic Goal. Why is this important? Savory suggests that if we don’t take the time to list out what needs to be produce in order to achieve our goals, it is unlikely to ever actually be produced… therefore, our goal is unlikely to ever be realized.

future resource base

Finally, the Future Resource Base is a way of looking long into the future to imagine what the world will look like when your Holistic Goal has been achieved. Savory recommends considering at least three spheres of interest: People (or how people will see you or your organization), The Environment, and The Community.

It is important to note that the sphere of ‘People’ is really more about how people will see you, or the organization for which you have written the Holistic Goal, long into the future. It might say something like “I will be known for dignity and honor in business” or something to that effect. This is basically asking the question of how people will view you when your holistic goal is achieved.

The spheres of ‘Environment’ and ‘Community’ on the other hand, asks what these things will look like in the future when your goal has been achieved. The environment, for instance, might be ‘clean and healthy’ and the community might be ‘diverse and well educated’ depending on what you hope to accomplish with your Holistic Goal.


There are two main elements to forming a Holistic Goal. The first is to identify and define the Whole Under Management. Allen has provided a framework for discovering the edges of any particular whole by defining three areas of focus: The Decision Makers, The Resource Base, and The Money. Together, these elements, forming a whole, help to inform the process of writing a Holistic Goal.

A Holistic Goal is not just a few words or phrases listing what you desire. Allan has again, through years of experience and observation, broken the Holistic Goal into three main sub-sections: Quality of Life, Forms of Production and, Future Resource Base. With these three elements you get a clear picture, not only what you truly want to achieve (Quality of Life), but what you will need to achieve it (Forms of Production) and, what successful achievement looks like (Future Resource Base).

All together, the three parts of the Whole Under Management (Decision Makers, Resource Base, Money) along with the three elements of the Holistic Goal (Quality of Life, Forms of Production, Future Resource Base) are the main areas of focus for this Diploma Project. I will cover some of the other aspects of the Holistic Management Model in other sections of this project where applicable. The majority of this project, however, will focus on the process of forming a Holistic Goal using this analysis of the Holistic Management Model.


<- back to main page                                analysis                                 forward to design ->

Leave a Reply