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Holistic Approach & Application for SDGs Management

The holistic approach is to pursue the whole best in administrative action and business innovation. The word "Holistic" originates in "Holos", meaning "togetherness" in Greek. 

In most companies, processes are aligned according to "job division" and “specialization”, in order to improve the efficiency of business processes. However, in today's world, the importance of the holistic approach increases. In this article, we are going to explain why and how the holistic approach and SDGs (sustainable development goals) management can be applied.


Why the holistic approach is important

Generally, organizations divide jobs more often and invest more into specialization, the more complicated business activities become. The organization of many companies is separated into professional functions such as R&D, product development, production, SCM, marketing, etc, as the management of daily work is more efficient in divided organizations. However, overall optimizations like business innovation become difficult in these organizational structures. Therefore, when it comes to business innovation, management and consultants must operate with a holistic approach and holistic actions.


The general method to apply the holistic approach are cross-functional teams (CFT). CFT is an easy-to-understand method and utilized in many companies. But, according to our research and experience, about 90% of the attempts are not leading to the anticipated excellent results. This is because just organizing a CFT does not fundamentally change people's thoughts and behaviors.

To solve this problem, IMIG successfully uses the holistic approach of the DAWA (Dauerhafte Wandlungsfähigkeit = durable mutability) concept.

Within the DAWA concept, 4 design fields are considered as shown in figure 1: Innovation & Efficiency (IE), Product & Process (PP), Personal & Knowledge (PK), and Strategy & Structure (SS).

Fig. 1: DAWA concept, IMIG


One main aspect of the DAWA concept is, that two main fields have to be regarded at the same time, for example, product & process. The reason is simple: even in Japanese companies, lean production specialists are enthusiastic about improving production processes, but they may not be interested in product development. Well-designed products though can improve production efficiency by a lot. Considering two main fields at the same time, the range of people's ideas can be broadened and creativity is enhanced.

Another important aspect of the DAWA concept is to take a bird's eye view of the four fields. What, if you were considering technology, products, production processes, human resources development, organizations, and strategies at the same time? This can become very difficult but as the management and innovation group, IMIG contributes to the long-term self-transformation capabilities of companies with the holistic approach.


SDGs management and holistic approach

This holistic approach is also important in the practice of sustainable development goals (SDGs) management. This is because SDGs management requires initiatives that give a bird's-eye view of the environment, society, business, etc. The Future-Fit Foundation in the UK divides corporate SDGs efforts into three stages, see Fig 2.

Fig. 2: SDGs management as a holistic approach, Future-Fit Foundation

In Japan, there are many companies in the phase of Defensive and Selective. However, the conation to the SDGs management rises rapidly, if targets like carbon-neutral production or other ambitious goals. For us, the SDGs management became an important tool and the holistic approach is utilized as an important method in this program for environment, society, business, etc.


We carry forward continuous research about the holistic approach. Please contact us if you are interested.


Kazuo Ooiwa
Managing Director I FMIC / IMIG Japan

For further information please contact us either by mail: or by phone: +49 7152 928 460.

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