I use a planning system on the farm that was developed initially by Allan Savory, who labeled his method Holistic Resource Management (now is renamed Holistic Management). This method has grown into a international movement, with certified instructors and teachers, books, workbooks, seminars, and other affiliated businesses. The website that one can visit is www.holisticmanagement.org.
I can’t say enough about how this has clarified my focus and enabled me to make decisions that get me to my goals – based upon the “whole” that I manage. Holistic management is all about recognizing we live in wholes (our farm, our business, our school, our family, our whatever) that also are a part of greater wholes. The earth is a “whole”, a whole entire earth that functions interdependently within itself. The earth itself can be considered a whole apart of the greater whole of our solar system, and on and on. It’s important to recognize that when we identify our whole that we manage, we are impacted by the greater whole which our whole is a part of , be it our community, our nation, our earth. We don’t live interdependently, we are all networked (and we must realize it, especially on farms).
Once we identify our whole, then we develop our goal, which is comprised of three parts. A lifestyle or life goal, a production goal, and a future resource base goal. I won’t go to much into detail here, as there are other sites and literature that do this. What I will say is Savory and others have done is identify ecosystem processes by which tools for managing them are utilized to achieve your goals. There are testing questions that one uses as decisions are contemplated, as well as management guidelines that help clarify the issues.
For example, if I identify my future resource base (in my case my farm) as something that increases in fertility yet decreases in cost, the tools that I would use would be grazing and animal impact. I would monitor my decision, assuming my tools are wrong (which allows for quicker correction — usually when I assume I’m right I won’t change as fast).
I’m simplifying the ideas here, however, the bottom line is that this is a method that works! Holistic management is something that is not just for agricultural enterprises, as it also can be used in civic situations, family decision making, businesses etc.