What is PLANET's Crystal Ball? - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

We recently updated our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website, you acknowledge that our revised Privacy Policy applies.

What is PLANET's Crystal Ball?


Early in 1970, a few members of the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) (now the Professional Landcare Network or PLANET) gathered together, agreeing that the green industry should become more proactive in determining its future. They believed that if landscape contractors could accurately predict future opportunities and roadblocks, they could plan to maximize opportunities, minimize problems, increase profitability and productivity, and more effectively deliver quality service to their clients.

The group, named the Crystal Ball Subcommittee, decided to gather forward looking contractors, suppliers, and outside experts in an annual topic specific brainstorming session. Each member funds his or her own expenses. The results of each discussion are published in a report/book format and shared with all PLANET members.

Soon, meeting for one day during PLANET’s annual meeting became too short to cover the topics to the extent necessary. The Subcommittee agreed that it needed three or four days of uninterrupted brainstorming to bring a discussion to a productive conclusion. Group members committed to a Wednesday through Sunday meeting at a rustic cabin in Wisconsin’s north woods. They worked together, made their own meals, and enjoyed their time together. The discussion started at 8 a.m., lasted until noon, broke until 1:30 p.m., and continued until 5:30 p.m., after which the group had dinner together. Early reports were written by committee chairpersons.

Though the group’s base is from PLANET membership, the Subcommittee decided that its visions should cover the entire industry. The association and Subcommittee should be viewed as one dynamic tool to help serve the industry.

The first report, Landscape Contracting: Today and Tomorrow, attempted to predict the future by understanding the past and present. The report, which was well received by the landscape community, predicted many roadblocks and opportunities, and suggested topics for the following reports.

Since then, the Subcommittee has discussed The Changing, Challenging Role of the Chief Executive Officer, Quality and the Landscape Contractor, Lean Management for the Green Industry, Marketing: Invent Your Future, along with many other subjects. In each report, Subcommittee members attempt to reach conclusions and share industry stories. They also try to include recommendations of specific activities for contractors, associations, suppliers, and educational institutions.

The information contained in these valuable reports can help chart the future of the green industry and propose some insightful recommendations for leading-edge business practices.

With the Crystal Ball Reports, you’ll learn about the emerging trends in leadership, productivity, and personnel; uncover what challenges the industry’s future success; explore concepts like innovation and sustainability; and become a thought-leader in areas like marketing, human resources, and client relations.

Stay tuned throughout the coming months to learn more about the Crystal Ball. We will be sharing video’s, excerpts and tips from past books, and valuable lessons that you will be able to apply to your daily business routines.

For more information, visit LandcareNetwork.org.