A holistic approach to business strategy harnesses the power of knowing exactly who is doing what, why they're doing it and how the expected outcome will affect the entire company. This top-level view of a business is essential for developing a comprehensive strategy that plays to the strengths of each department. It also avoids potential workflow problems and poor interdepartmental communication.
Do not misunderstand the holistic approach definition: It does not mean that you'll be adopting a spiritual perspective of your business. Instead, it refers to an approach that looks at the "whole" company and all of its variables. A holistic strategy is an all-encompassing strategy, not a narrow-minded one.
There are various factors to consider if you want to adopt a holistic approach to business strategy.
Evaluating Company-Wide KPIs
Taking a holistic approach to problem-solving and business strategy helps you maintain a "bigger picture" perspective at all times. You're not overly concerned with how the design department is performing just for the sake of the design department. Instead, you want to know how their work affects the company overall.
That's why your major key performance indicators (KPIs) should be applicable to the entire company. Better yet, any KPIs focusing specifically on a particular department should trace back to show the impact on a company-wide KPI.
Profitability and return on investment represent two examples of company-wide KPIs. Lead generation and page views represent department-specific KPIs. How do lead generation web page clicks affect the overall company's profitability? Small business owners taking a holistic approach to business strategy will focus on those questions.
Focusing on Company Strengths and Weaknesses
No business strategy would be complete without a strategic plan that analyzes strengths and weaknesses. However, don't make the mistake of honing in on each department for separate analyses and forgetting to do one for the company as a whole.
This doesn't mean you can't talk about departments during a top-level strategic analysis. For example, a company with a high turnover rate has a clear weakness. Before you start to question your overall company culture, dig a little further. If the turnover is happening in one department in particular, the problem may not be with the company itself, but perhaps with the management of that department.
Organizing and Managing Workflows
There are a lot of moving parts in business strategy that need to be understood as a whole. Focusing on just one or two little parts of the puzzle may show that one particular department performs well, but that the rest of the company struggles with its communication, record-keeping, deliverables, etc. You need to understand the entire interdepartmental workflow of your company from start to finish in order to have a truly holistic view.
Someone in the company always needs to have a clear vision of the future and where the entire company is headed, both in the broad sense and in terms of each step required to get from point A to point Z. There always has to be a person or team of people who can answer, "What now?" It's a holistic approach, in which the purpose of every moving part is intricately understood, that enables the answer to this question.
If it means adopting a hands-on approach to discover exactly what it takes to perform the daily tasks in the company, so be it. If you, as a small business owner, have no idea what a particular department is capable of, you run the risk of either asking too much and overworking them, or asking too little and failing to realize their potential.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.