Throughout our lives, the actions we take inevitably lead us, decision by decision towards one of only two possible outcomes: ‘what we want’, or ‘what we don’t want’. There is no middle ground. And here’s the thing: What one does follows, but never leads what we have decided to do. Failing landscapes, social breakdown and financial stress follow our decisions, but don’t lead them. This means that problem situations, even seemingly hopeless ones, can be reversed so long as the next decisions are sound.
The process evolved because one man, Allan Savory, took it into his head to find the root cause of land degradation. He looked at all the common beliefs as to the cause, and one by one revealed they were each symptoms of a deeper issue. He realised that the clever organism, humans, who have conquered the world in so many ways, were, decision by decision inadvertently applying management tools that were degrading the very resource base on which their long term existence depends.
Managing holistically utilises the Holistic Management decision-making framework. The advantage this framework provides is consistently good results when used in natural system environments, especially when managing land and people. The process is ‘agnostic’, in that it does not ‘prescribe’ how things must be carried out. People remain in control of their own destiny. No matter how difficult the current situation may be, decision by decision every decision can be directed towards ‘what is wanted’, which, as described above, means deliberate movement away from ‘what is not wanted’.
People often wrongly associate a change in grazing management as the same as “managing holistically”. It’s true that grazing does feature prominently in this framework, especially in seasonal environments. Grazing is a ‘tool’ that is often used to execute a decision, but is never the decision itself. Part of the breakthrough thinking that underpins the entire process was the realisation that decisions people make about how they manage their grazing animals leads either to improving or degrading landscapes—that is, towards what is wanted, or away from it.
To achieve ‘what is wanted’, some proprietary processes have been developed that help people make good grazing decisions. The entire process is focused on achieving what is wanted and moving away from what is not wanted. To support movement towards what is desired, for the first time ever there is now a financial planning process that completely considers the ecological and social consequences of every plan and program, regardless of the industry concerned. It utilises all of the decision-making power of this remarkable management process.