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This Earth Day Ask: What Will My Company Look Like in 100 Years?

sequoia forest in fog

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
  – Benjamin Franklin

As Earth Day celebrations take place around the planet this week, it’s a reminder of the importance of a long-term vision and sustainable planning.

Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970, as a response to the rising levels of pollution damaging the world’s ecosystems. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson collaborated with national educational organizations to galvanize 20 million Americans to protest in public spaces throughout the country in a mass environmental teach-in. The event has since become a global symbol of the need to protect our planet’s future by building intelligent, sustainable practices—and moving away from a focus on only the short-term.

This Earth Day, let’s take a moment to step back from the next item on our to-do list or the next hurdle to surmount and eye the horizon for long-term visions, and the plans that will get us there. What are your company’s finance leaders doing now to create the next decade of sustained, meaningful growth? Where will your company be 100 years from now?

Financial planning, budgeting and reporting is table stakes to driving sustainable growth, and today’s advanced technologies allow us to have an extraordinary, 360-degree view, of business performance. With this past, present, and future perspective finance leaders can unearth critical insights that inform data-driven decision-making. More agile than ever, they can respond quickly to customer demands, to a struggling distribution channel, or to volatile market conditions. And with a forward-looking view, they are transforming their own businesses to achieve competitive advantages today while planting deep roots to ensure that the company is still growing and thriving decades from now. Until very recently, chasing valuations and achieving unicorn status was a marker of success. Growing a business that is sustainable and enduring, and makes a true mark on an industry is the true badge of honor.

Sustainable growth also depends on a holistic company culture and the nurturing of internal ecosystems. In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it can be hard to see past the next sales cycle or earnings call. But an emphasis only on the near future can damage long-term potential. Take the time and effort required to build a quality of culture and enduring teams. A company with a highly developed culture spends, on average, $350 million less annually fixing mistakes than a company without a similar culture of quality, according to a CEB analysis. Yet an astounding 60% of employees say they work in an environment that lacks that culture of quality—perhaps because leaders are so focused on the next quick fixes that might bring a short-term bump to the bottom line.

When Adaptive Insights crossed the 3,000th customer mark in December 2015, we took a moment to celebrate the relationships we had established with customers, including NASCO, the very first user of Adaptive Insights software. With our eye held firmly on the future and a desire to not only nurture these lasting customer relationships—but to grow them, we partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 3,000 trees in honor of our 3,000 customers. We chose California’s Tahoe National Forest, an area ravaged by a devastating fire in 2013, to help revitalize 3,470-acres with new growth of giant sequoia, sugar pine, incense cedar and Douglas Fir.

“We wanted to create something sustainable, that symbolizes growing together,” Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights explains. The 3,000 new trees will help reinvigorate the fire-damaged Tahoe National Forest, just 200 miles north of our Palo Alto headquarters. And those trees will be there a year from now and a decade from now and, we hope, a century from now. Just like us—and just like our customers.

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