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A holistic approach to business practices : Is it the time to adopt this new strategy ?

I was having a conversation with my friend at the restaurant the other day. She was telling me that she wants to be become a licenced therapist and provide help and support of black women victim of sexual assault. She has this beautiful dream of opening the first Black Therapy center in Canada (hopefully she opens one in Africa too!)

I loved her idea and I asked her about her thought on Holistic approaches in general. She first said that the first word that comes to her mind is: Spiritual. I asked her from her perspective how can we integrate holistic approaches to business practices. We had an amazing discussion on trying to understand how a holistic approach have many benefits to the growth and expansion of businesses around the world.

What is a Holistic approach?

Having a holistic approach means looking at something as a whole interconnected entity; understanding the bigger picture, not only thinking outside the box but removing the box completely. 

The holistic approach to wellbeing has been around since the 4th Century BC, taught by Hippocrates who encouraged people to look at them themselves as a whole person rather than just focusing on a specific body part or illness. 

In comparison to the holistic approach to health, my friend was explaining to me that this view emphasizes the importance of the whole-body system rather than pieces and sections that are treated individually. This includes the connection of mind, body, spirit.   

Despite being a fresh concept, the approach is increasing in popularity among small and large companies worldwide. 

How does it benefit organization?

There are many benefits to companies using holistic approaches. It allows them to see which sections of the company are failing or are weaker compared to others. For example, when looking at departments individually, it may seem that the two departments are failing or falling behind. However, when looked at as a whole, it may then appear that only one department is actually falling behind which, in turn, is impacting on the next department.

Even though the approach looks at the company as a whole, this doesn’t necessarily mean companies merge departments, it simply means they align a company to see and analyse the overall company aim. 

This approach gives equal importance and an overall shared purpose to every department and therefore can ensure a company is running to its full potential.

My friend and I were arguing that, similarly, a holistic approach to health is essential to address the leading cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. It takes everything into account and encourages people to take charge of their health and well-being. Which is why this approach can be also apply to businesses with the same concept.

For example, companies such as Apple have successfully used a holistic approach when adapting their designs. Originally Apple’s products showed little resemblance to each other because each department worked separately with its own heads of design.  By using a holistic approach, Apple looked at all their products as a whole and designed them to have an overall synthesis. This, in turn, powered their brand image. Customers now buy Apple products to own a piece of the brand, as well as the product itself. Other big-name companies such as Heineken, Nike, and Nespresso have also taken on holistic approaches, all of which have resulted in substantial growth and exposure.

Looking at the market with a holistic lens

Companies adopt a holistic approach for different reasons. However, one overall goal is usually growth - being that in a current local or international market, or when expanding globally. It is important for companies to understand a market with cultural context so they can pursue growth with the specific needs of the culture at the forefront of their expansion. Using the same marketing techniques and structure in each country won’t make every growth or expansion venture successful.

For example, to look into the financial sector of any African country, a company wouldn’t just want to look at banks, but instead the financial environment as a whole. How people use banks in relation to their location, do they have access to banks directly? How do they save their money? How do they invest? 

Understanding and implicating the cultural context of a specific market holistically ensures every aspect of a product or service is appropriately targeted, accessible, and desirable to the customers within it. This will not only help growth, but also retention and conversion.  

Final take – approved or not?

Developing holistic views on markets, businesses, companies, and products increase the likelihood of success and growth within a country. The more a company knows about the country and culture they’re in or expanding into, the better their global advances will be. The easier a product/service is to access and consume in a country, the more trust customers will have in that company. There is no such thing in knowing too much about a market. 

With the proven success of holistic approaches undertaken by big-brand companies, it’s clear why the approach is increasing in popularity and recognition, with more companies taking on this approach to get the most out of their expansion, growth, retention and conversion ventures. 


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