What is Holistic Development?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Holistic development is a business model that stresses the connection between every aspect of a business. This interconnection also applies to any projects the business may undertake. The basic theory states that success in one area will not translate to success in all areas, but failure in any area will result in failure in all areas. Through this approach, areas of a business that are typically kept separate, such as marketing and after-sales support, are brought together much more often.

Holism is the idea that all things are one. Any ideas about various areas of life that are separate from one another are simply illusions. People create separations in order to compartmentalize information and make their lives easier to process. If they work to reintegrate these ideas, it is possible for any person to live a happy, and more productive, life, holism purports.

Holistic development is essentially the same idea applied to the business world. Instead of looking at a person’s life as artificially separated, it looks at business growth and development. The barriers put between people and offices serve to distract workers from achieving a higher productivity rate. The compartmentalizing of projects make the project take longer than if the barriers were not there.


While holistic development may apply to an entire business, it also can apply to single projects. Creating project teams that comprise every area of a business can create new methods of thinking and avenues of design. On the flip side, it also means that people in the team have a greater amount of work in their individual areas. In a normal system, a team of research and development workers would make a product, and a marketing team would market it; in a holistic team, one or two members would make the project, and one or two members would market it.

Like many business models, holistic development doesn’t work the same way for every company. While some organizations would likely welcome the thought of a workplace free of physical and social barriers, others would find the idea disconcerting. For some, the idea of creating a mishmash of departments though combining areas would seem like anarchy. In many cases, the type and style of the business determines exactly how well holistic development works.

In general, holistic development functions best with non-technical and smaller businesses. Smaller business are typically better at adopting new ideas into their day-to-day work lives. These companies will typically already have people filling multiple roles, and a truly holistic approach would simply be another step. In technical fields, the amount of meticulous and specialized work is often quite high, meaning a person or team with a broad area of knowledge may not have the specific skills required.


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