Editor's Points: The Power of Vision

January 3, 2012
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What decisions would you make today if money were not an issue? It’s a question worth considering.

Donald E. Bowen Jr., PLS, principal of Meridian Associates Inc., has this question written prominently on a whiteboard in his office. It’s a guiding philosophy for the Beverly, Mass.-based multidisciplinary firm. “While money is important to make anything happen in life, the key in business is identifying the opportunities days, months or years before anyone else,” Bowen explains.

Bowen would know. Ten years ago, his firm’s service base consisted entirely of traditional land development services; today, that service sector represents only half of the company’s revenue. Strategic investments in 3D laser scanning and services related to renewable energy and sustainability have propelled Meridian Associates to a leading position in a number of growth markets and helped the firm achieve double-digit increases and record revenues for 2010 and 2011.

A book Bowen frequently recommends to employees, clients and business owners is “It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small...It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow.”* This principle drives Meridian to continually invest in technologies and resources that support its areas of specialty and enable it to deliver information faster, better and more accurately. It also compels the firm to actively seek new challenges and embrace change.

“We have always been willing to invest in new initiatives that do not follow conventional thinking,” Bowen says. “We do not shy away from risk, providing the return favors our growth strategy. If a company waits until it is desperate for change to consider new business ideas, it is likely too late to assume elevated risks in a weakened state. These decisions must be continually evaluated to take advantage of emerging opportunities.”

Technology consultant Darron Pustam, GISP, offers some guidance for approaching such an evaluation. “Developing a roadmap for your company’s future strategies first requires an honest assessment of your firm’s values, vision and mission,” he says in his article “Changing Directions” (see page 14 in this issue). “This is the time to reflect on past intentions and measure whether your initial aspirations are being met. Then, you can close those gaps and set new goals that will continually stretch your capacity and capabilities.” Today more than ever, he says, the strategic paths we carve determine whether we will maintain a sustainable competitive advantage or relinquish to mediocrity or failure.

What is your five-year plan? Does it include risk-taking and capability-stretching? Can you see the opportunities that lie ahead? Seize the day--success awaits.

Read the full story on Meridian Associates in Points of Progress: Embracing Change, online at

*Jennings, Jason and Haugton, Laurence, HarperBusiness, Jan. 2001.

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