In Defense of Holism

Allen Clements

Allen Clements

March 18, 2019

Back in 2010 I published a blog post about specialization. My post production firm, Postage VFX, had made the jump into the world of specializing in post production and even more specifically into visual effects and animation. In the blog post I explained respectively why specializing in one thing made us better. While there are truths about taking super-focused looks at anything, I’m now longing for wider vistas on everything life has to offer.

WHAT IS HOLISM?

“Holism” is an old term and an even older idea. Often associated with ecology and natural approaches to human problems, the term “holism” comes from the Greek word “holos,” meaning “all, entire, total.” Aristotle described the general principle of holism when he suggested “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” A principle that we reference when we use the word “synergy.” But the fact is that synergy isn’t created. It happens in nature organically and it happens in business organically when we stop segmenting and let things take their natural form. Holism is a worldview we can practice in the decisions we make and the systems we either craft or in some cases demolish.

HOW DOES THAT LOOK?

HOLISM IN BUSINESS

The coordinating producer that has a knack for breathtaking aerial cinematography.

The editor that happens to have a woodshop in her basement.

Of course, you have to hire someone with some idea of how they fit a specific need, but the beauty of people is that there is the surface you can see and comprehend in one interview, and then there is so much more.

It’s also important to see the natural flow of interest from someone when they come into your organization or team. For this purpose, cross training and intramural experiences are crucial for two reasons. One, someone might find a talent they never knew existed. Two, and more importantly, that person gains a holistic understanding of the process which creates more micro efficiencies than you can imagine.

HOLISM IN PROJECTS

Holism is important on a project level too. That’s why at MAKE we seek to create a broad understanding of your organization and the ecosystem in which the film we make for you will live. We need to know what comes before and what comes next in your sales funnel. We work to understand who your audience is and what motivates them. All of these aspects are crucial parts of the picture, even more so than a list of facts about your business or product.

WE ARE NOT INSECTS

Robert Heinlein, a writer and aeronautical engineer wrote, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

So let’s celebrate the human and give them all the beautiful experiences and information their hearts desire. We are not insects. We do not specialize. We adapt.


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