Holism vs. Atomism

Holism and Atomism are two totally opposing philosophies on how to view and consider the whole – be it economy, society, ecosystem, business or pretty much any system. An atomist believes the whole is best served by breaking it down or analyzing its separate parts and the relationship between those parts, and the holist believes that the whole, itself, is primary. The “whole” is always greater than the sum of its parts.

The atomist divides things up to understand them better; the holist looks at things or systems in aggregate and suggests that we can better comprehend their nature and their purpose from that perspective.

It’s important to realize that while these philosophies are opposing, they are both vital in the success of any group endeavor. As a business owner, you must consider the mission of your company as a whole. Your business is looked upon in terms of holism. Your business rides a wave of opinion created from controlled communication through advertising and marketing as well as reputation of service through word of mouth. To understand what you must become, you must see things in a holistic perspective. It allows you to then consider what must be done internally to affect that outcome.

We work in a creative environment here at Imagine Marketing. We are full of big ideas and equally big egos. But we understand that our goal is to give our clients the best of us. This requires an openness to one another’s ideas that, at times, requires the dialing down of the ego. A few times as creative director, I’ve decided to go against my gut reaction and chose to give another idea some time to develop and grow. I’ve often been pleased by the results of this gut wrenching method of creative development. This I feel is one of the ways to use the atomist philosophy in the creative process, with the holistic perspective being the motivation.

Going against our own nature and doing what doesn’t come natural (by ignoring your creative needs or relinquishing them when appropriate) is difficult, but it can prove to be better for the common holistic goal. The other benefit to using this technique is that people feel valued. We still have our disagreements here at Imagine, but I feel that everyone is given a chance to shine at one time or another.

So you say you want a business full of happy people who want to do their best for you 24/7? Then I suggest you dial down the ego and listen awhile. Your employees will appreciate your consideration and will hopefully be anxious to give you more ideas in the future. And those are great building blocks for any business.

Alex Raffi serves as Creative Director for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Alex at

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