Whole Systems Approach to Building Partnerships

Whole Systems Approach to Building Partnerships

For over 30 years, Holon Consulting has provided facilitation and consulting services designed to fully engage organizations (for profit and non-profits), teams and individuals to use the power of their collective experience to achieve the desired results.

These services promote creativity, commitment, sound decisions, strong relationships and long-term effectiveness. An environment of collaboration, learning and innovation is fostered among the organization’s parts (individuals, teams & work units), and between the organization and its external partners. External partners are those outside the organization who have a shared responsibility in the success of the partnership; and whose input and participation are required to meet each other’s goals.


A “holon” is defined as a whole on its own, as well as a part of a greater whole. The interaction of these holons generates a synergy that makes possible what is impossible with any single holon. The organization, the work units/departments, the teams, the individuals, and the external partners are each holons. Individually, they are each a whole, as well as part of a greater whole. They need, and are needed by, the other holons to operate, adapt to change, and prosper.

Holon Consulting uses a whole systems approach to involve all the holons to produce effective and lasting partnerships. Organization-wide techniques are used to create long term, systems-wide solutions. A whole systems approach provides each holon a valuable understanding and experience of the whole. This greater awareness promotes the ability of all parts to consider options and take action that benefit the whole.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The part is greater than its role in the whole.”
-Tom Atlee


In the Strategic Partnering process, each partner’s definition of success is considered, and common goals are achieved by working together. By considering all partners’ values and issues, a high trust environment emerges. Trust is further fostered by follow-through on agreements. Strategic Partnering produces solutions and desired change through a collaborative process.


Strategic Partnering promotes responsible communication, decision- making and change. This approach provides an opportunity for partners* to meet and understand each other’s perspectives; jointly develop a mission, goals and operating agreements; and identify issues and resolutions to ensure success.

*Partners are the entities (e.g. individuals, agencies, community groups, customers, suppliers, special interest groups, teams, and organizations) who have a shared responsibility to successfully design, produce or maintain some aspect of the partnership; and whose input and participation are required to meet each other’s goals.


  • Shared Vision
  • Trust & Mutual Respect
  • Frequent & Open Communication
  • Input & participation by all partners
  • Clarified Roles & Expectations
  • Teamwork & Consensus
  • Shared Responsibilities & Commitment
  • Timely Responsiveness
  • Clear lines of Accountability
  • Ongoing Evaluation & Feedback


  • Increased participation and sense of ownership
  • Reduced stress in the work environment
  • Speedy resolution of Issues
  • Improved quality of Project, Product or Service
  • Opportunity for all partners to provide input
  • Long lasting & high-quality relationships
  • Decisions that consider both the short- and long-term impacts
  • Satisfaction of self-interests & shared interests of partners
  • Greater access to shared resources & skills
  • Decrease in claims & litigation


  • “Design the Partnership”
  • “Build the Partnership”
  • “Sustain the Partnership”