Labor Day found me enjoying the hot tub with my wife, while watching the myriad of birds that congregate in our back yard. There is a large wall of bushes in our back yard, with a lots of flowers for the hummingbirds to feed. There is also a variety of birds including finches, cardinals, sparrows, wrens, chickadees, and even an osprey. There was a time when our back-yard view was an adjacent office complex and parking lot. But Heidi had a different idea.

Should we build a fence?” I suggested.

No,” said Heidi, “We do not need man-made fixtures to provide privacy! I can build a ‘Flowering Fence.’”

Heidi had a vision. She envisioned this green wall of nature, which is a variety of fast-growing trees, bushes and flowering plants. She mapped it out on a piece of paper, made multiple trips to the garden center, and now, 4 years later, we have a 30-foot wall of fantastic greenery and flowers as our privacy fence, with a wonderful display of wildlife for our personal entertainment.

So, as we sat in the hot-tub, I was complimenting Heidi: first for her ability to envision the Green Wall, and secondly for her ability to map out and execute the plan to make it happen. I complimented her for her ability to create and execute a strategic vision, an ability that top CEOs display when it comes to steering their respective organizations in the right direction. Indeed, because of Heidi’s strategic vision, we are now enjoying a thriving vertical garden instead of a parking lot.

A strategic vision begins with the vision, which is the desired future state of the organization. This vision is then used to create the strategic plan, which is the plan of action to get there. It sounds simple but it is not. First there is the vision itself. If it is wrong, then the company heads in the wrong direction and spends valuable resources in vain. The correct vision depends upon two things: first, the company must have clear and definable goals; and secondly, the leadership must also clearly understand what I call the “Marketing Topography.” The CEO must both see and foresee.

So, what is marketing topography? Well, topography itself is defined as a detailed map of the surface features of land showing mountains, hills, creeks and other aspects of a particular tract of land. Marketing topography is a map of what your organization will see in the marketplace in the next 3-5 years, including economic conditions, customer preferences, state of technology and competitive forces. These factors represent the hills and the valleys, the opportunities and the hindrances when it comes to your company achieving your vision.

Some people ask, “Why do CEO’s get paid so much?” Well if one is adept at seeing and foreseeing the marketing topography and creating the correct vision for your company, then you are extremely valuable to your organization. But it doesn’t stop there. Your company’s leadership must also be effective at creating and executing the strategic plan to get you there.

So, with the busy season bearing down upon the window and door industry, it is important to keep an eye on how smoothly everything is running in the plant. However, if you are a CEO, the president, the VP, the owner, or part of the team that helps to shape the vision of your organization and develop the strategic plan to get you there, then it is crucial to make your way to Atlanta this month to attend the GlassBuild America trade exhibition on Sept 17- 19 in Atlanta. This is an event that will help you define the marketing topography of the fenestration industry, which will help you determine the correct vision and strategic plan for your organization.

Getting to events such as GlassBuild will help you to see and foresee what lies ahead and where your company needs to be down the road

So, will it be a desolate parking lot or a thriving garden? It all depends on your strategic vision!

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