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Global Business 11.09.17 BLOG 

How Holistic Management Can Help You Move Mountains—One Stone at a Time

By Geoff Culbert, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts,

language services business

How Holistic Management Can Help You Move Mountains—One Stone at a Time

How does holistic management impact your customers? Often, clients not only ask for the details of what's going on with any given program, but also for the summary, the highlights, and everything in between. For this reason, it is important to consider all of the moving parts that comprise the bigger picture.   

What is holistic management? Just as it sounds—managing the whole as a sum of all those parts.  Juggling and aligning the resources at hand to help any business succeed: people, process, technology, financials, etc.

In the language services business, the various stages of a product lifecycle interact continually and influence the end result. In today's world of agile development, dependencies are so tightly interwoven that the only way to stay focused is to always keep the end goal in mind. A holistic management approach reinforces that focus. For example, when your business is releasing a service or product in multiple geographies, language is just one piece of the bigger picture. Other critical components include: development schedule, user experience, brand awareness, market growth potential, product support costs, etc. Individual performance goals are often measured against the larger objectives, which allows each individual to boil down their contribution within the product lifecycle. Taking a holistic viewpoint—i.e., understanding how individual goals fit within that bigger picture—helps reinforce a shared partnership between customers and the service providers that help them meet their objectives.

"The problem with holistic management is it's so profoundly simple, but it's not easy," says Allan Savory, the creator of holistic management, a systems-thinking approach to managing resources. In our daily lives, we tend to tackle the tasks directly in front of us. Head down, single-minded, get through our list of priorities. We are less likely to step back and visualize why those tasks really matter and where they fit into the big picture. 

When mountaineers are asked why they summit a peak, they often quote George Mallory's famous quip about Mt. Everest: "Because it's there." (Note: There is some debate as to the authenticity of Mr.  Mallory's quote from 1923.) Those three words have inspired many climbers to maintain their uniquely holistic view of the task at hand: get to the top because it's there, and because I can. They carefully plan a route, train, and test gear—and then do it all over again. Having done some mountaineering myself, I readily acknowledge that the devil is indeed in those details. When the wind is gusting around you, the temperature is dropping, and your brain is addled from exhaustion and lack of oxygen, a question as simple as "Where did I pack my summit mittens?" can alter the course of your journey—either allowing you to reach the summit, or forcing you to turn back.

While finding my summit mittens was a make-or-break requirement in that moment, it was only one out of dozens of details that needed to work in concert for me to reach my goal. What really got me to the top was constant reaffirmation of my objective: to summit and return safely. This singular, holistic view guided me as I prepared all of the moving parts critical to my success.

Whether it's mountaineering or an enterprise strategy for globalization, holistic management can inform your approach to virtually any goal. Release a software update in 30 markets. Update a website concurrently worldwide. Launch multilingual videos to support a product campaign. Globalization takes many forms, with financial, marketing, and end-user goals to match. At, we manage your worldwide business objectives while recognizing that our customers run the gamut of preparedness, from George Mallory's single-minded focus on the end goal to the more reactive "kick the can down the road" types. Each comes with its own set of business priorities and justifications. As your language services partner, it's our job to help you hone your strategy and objectives, while also ensuring we are fully prepared to meet those objectives.

To maintain that holistic perspective, it's important to understand where your product, service, or technology fits into your customer's full product lifecycle. From there, determine how to help your customers solve their own business problems around that lifecycle. And therein lies the value for both parties: a mutual respect for and commitment to shared goals. When you're impacting their business, you are less commoditized. That's the result of a more holistic, less head-down approach.

Once you have the bigger picture, success comes from seeing both the end goal and the steps to get there. Remind yourself and those you work with: we're in this together—many moving parts working towards a common goal. 

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