The term “holistic” is usually reserved for the wellness industry, though it’s equally applicable to your business. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines holistic as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.” Based on this definition, approaching your business holistically requires an in-depth understanding of the symbiotic nature of systems.

A holistic business is run by systems that work together to reach an overall goal. The left-hand needs to know what the right-hand is doing.

A simple example would be a mail center employee stacking FedEx boxes underneath UPS boxes, not knowing the FedEx driver picks up packages first. The employee doesn’t know because she’s off work before the packages get picked up.

Chances are, your business is more complex than stacking boxes for pickup. Here’s how understanding systems will make your business holistic and, therefore, more efficient:

1. Understanding systems is a powerful diagnostic tool

Small Business BC defines systems as, “any repeatable processes in your business that can theoretically take place without your direct action. A system is a method of doing something that can be done the same way, over and over, as efficiently as possible.”

Systems are highly underrated. People talk about them, but it’s more of a theory for some. For instance, many businesses believe they have systems in place for running their departments, but what they really have are vague outlines of ideas filed away in a binder. These ideas are incorporated into employee manuals but there’s no structure in place to sustain them.

In order for a system to truly be a system, it needs to be in practice and actually running. It doesn’t have to be running perfectly from the start, but it needs to be in motion.

Systems help diagnose breakdowns

Accurately diagnosing a breakdown requires identifying the point at which it occurred. There might only be one breakdown, but usually, several exist. Without a system to analyze, finding the source of a breakdown is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Imagine, for a moment, that your company experienced a data security breach and you don’t have any system in place for defining how sensitive data is accessed by employees. Everyone used the same login credentials with access to the same level of data.

Identifying a breakdown requires tracing it back to a deviation. Without a standardized system, there can be no deviation, and problem-solving is cumbersome.

2. Understanding systems improves efficiency

When you understand the complexity of systems involved in running your business, identifying efficiency gaps is easy. You need to know where all of your gears are, in what direction they’re currently turning, and how they should be moving to achieve your goal.

As technology transforms the manufacturing industry, there are a lot of moving parts. It’s easy to see how systems don’t always work in harmony. When big breakdowns occur, it’s a sign that systems have been pieced together a-la-carte rather than engineered holistically.

Hylasoft is one company that understands the importance of holistically engineered systems; what they’re doing sets a solid example for other industries. They’re bridging the gap of efficiency in the manufacturing world by getting all gears going in the same direction. By bridging gaps of inefficiency between engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain systems, they’re creating one coherent, holistic system that encompasses all others.

Industry departments aren’t as unrelated as you may think. Too often, efficiency gaps exist that make it difficult for workers to do their jobs. They don’t always know why their jobs are so difficult, either. They’ll just find workarounds, and you’ll never know there’s a problem.

Getting all of your systems to work as a single unit gives you an edge against the competition. While other companies are at the whims of an incoherent system, you won’t be.

3. Systems make your team happy and productive

Your systems do more than make your business run smoothly; they give structure to your teams and support their efforts to be proud of their work.

Systems are more than rules and procedures. They’re intricately designed maps that streamline the effort between your teams and departments. A holistic business founded on solid systems is the secret to thriving in any economic condition.