Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Leaves

I do not profess to be a World Traveler, but this much I do know. Right now, there are few more beautiful places to visit than the Storm King Art Center located in the lower Hudson Valley in New York. Why? Long range planning.

Read On:
The Storm King Art Center was founded by the co-owners of the Star Expansion Company, Ralph E. Ogden and his son-in-law H. Peter Stern. The company which specializes in metal fasteners and drills relocated from Bayonne, New Jersey to its current location in Mountainville, New York. In 1958, Ogden bought a 180-acre estate in the area through a family foundation. Concerned about the damage construction of the New York Thruway inflicted on the region’s landscape, Ogden began buying up surrounding land and then in 1960 with H. Peter Stern they opened a non-profit art center to the public. Their initial vision was to exhibit paintings by the Hudson River School. However, one year later they decided to make the art center a sculpture garden, harmonizing the rustic beauty of the landscape with sculpture from prominent artists – David Smith, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, etc. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Storm King Art Center. Thanks to a well managed foundation, it continues to grow and evolve in terms of acreage, landscaping and sculpture. Long range planning at its best.

Now I do recognize, long-range planning has become difficult thanks to our turbulent economy and the fast pace evolution of globalization. For most businesses, long-term planning is now conducted on either a quarterly or annual basis. A two year plan has become a rarity these days. However, there still is one element of business that takes long range planning – branding. Starbucks, Nike, Apple, etc. all great examples of relatively modern brands, each had a long range plan when it came to branding, a subject I addressed last year in a post titled Brand Stamps about Cirque de Soleil. Brands are built one customer at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, etc., but still reflect an original vision that was part of a long range plan.
I would like to take timeout to thank Ralph E. Ogden, H. Peter Stern and the Storm King Art Center for teaching me the beauty of long range planning.


  1. Long range planning is a lost element of business. When I first joined corporate life, we used to conduct a five-year plan. Slowly it was diminished to 4, then 3, and finally a 12-month plan. There is little view toward long term trends; only short term fads. Rather sad.

  2. I've got to give you credit, always have the most interesting experiences!

    I don't know if you are familiar with Blue Bottle Coffee Co., but they are also a good example of a single, handcrafted concept slowly morphing into a long range plan.

  3. The problem with long-range planning for a lot of businesses, as you mentioned is they are so caught up in the day to day activities, they can't see what's in front of them. so what happens is , they react to market forces, instead of proactively trying to lead by change. Playing catch-up all the time is a lose-lose- business model.

  4. G'day Jimmy,

    Businesses are a bit like people, the older they get and the more established they are, the shorter their planning time frames become.

    Once a person gets to a certain age they generally stop buying green bananas.

    When businesses age, they generally decline, because they don't plan for a future beyond their own horizons.

    A business with a strong vision for its longer term future is the only one that can avoid the normal life cycle of businesses, which for some strange reason, tends to follow the stages of human life.

  5. Glad that you chose Storm King as a metaphor for long term planning for brand building. It is truly a wonder and a testament to those principles. It is especially beautiful when approached on a Screaming Eagle Harley Road Glide (bright orange!),as we do frequently, Harley Davidson being an iconic brand that has its own long-term planning issues. Great post!