DIRECTIONS - Architecture for revenue growth

October 2014


Richard (Dick) Van BelzenIn the northern half of the U.S., we are well into fall and experiencing the natural beauty that comes with the change of seasons. With each day we see colors change from greens to yellows, reds, and oranges, and it’s exciting to watch.

Similarly we’re refocused on having our business finish strong, and also keeping an eye on 2015. So many of the changes in our business are both less obvious than the change of seasons, and far less predictable at times. For most, 2014 has been a solid year. But we’d always like to get more business and attain growth rates like in pre-2009 years. While growth has been slower and there are uncertainties, there are still ways to expand and challenge our business teams and ourselves.

Often we feel isolated and want to do it all by ourselves, or are unsure about how to enlist the right kind of help. On mission critical, high impact, and vital signs efforts, it’s best to engage a trusted advisor, whether you choose Northpoint or another. Much of the time we look at the same problem or situation with the same people and the same internal bias, but expect new and better outcomes. Some of it’s so obvious to outsiders, but can be muddled to those inside the business.

Think about needing heart surgery and determining the best surgeon for the job. Would you try to do the job yourself, or would you find a cardiac specialist who has successfully performed hundreds of this type of surgery? Obviously I’m dramatizing, as we know the answer to this question. So why, when tackling situations in our work life, do we think we can tackle a complicated situation without the help of a business specialist?

Richard (Dick) Van Belzen
Managing Director

Northpoint Advisors, LLC
1173 Pittsford-Victor Road, Suite 250
Pittsford, NY 14534
Phone: 585.233.6707


Learning From the NFL’s Mistakes

If you’ve been shaking your head in disbelief or resignation about the domestic violence headlines that have dominated media coverage of the National Football League in recent weeks, you’re not alone.

If you’ve been nodding your head in agreement with sports columnists and others who believe the NFL should have handled these problems much better, join the club.

But if you’re also feeling that the NFL couldn’t have seen these problems coming or that your organization is immune from similar problems, please keep reading.

Football head coaches—just like chief executives—see their reputations and legacies defined by the organizations they build and what they stand for. Those organizations, just like yours, are built with just a few key ingredients: mission, people, culture and commitment.

Before the most recent and very disturbing reports of NFL players engaging in alleged criminal activity, few football fans and fantasy football fanatics would care to question whether the foundations of professional football in this country were built with the right mission, people and commitment. The NFL today is more successful by many measures than it has ever been.

But in light of the scandals that have put the NFL commissioner on defense, the public outcry and a boycott movement, one has to ask whether the NFL should have seen this coming. The answer, explained in large part by its franchised teams’ unrelenting and singular focus on physical talent, is undeniably 'Yes'.

The lesson for today’s chief executives is this: When you create a culture that puts talent of one sort or another above all else, you will be forced to deal with questions of individual human character, capacity and interest in collaboration, culture fit and perhaps even criminality.

Article by Joseph Daniel McCool. As published in Chief Executive Magazine.


 Achieving the right balance between gut instinct and analysis is challenging. Much may depend on your career stage and level of industry expertise. Experience has proven that leaning too far in either direction can hurt you/your organization. Here are a few thoughts on gut vs. analysis:

  • It’s vital to focus on the effect a decisionwill have on your external customer. Decisions are often made to improve work process and cut costs, but if the outcome could hurt your customer, think twice. As an example, we continue to see the short-sighted impact of security breaches by several large retailers, in terms of security investments.
  • Start with framing the situation to ensure you have the full picture. Get others to provide insights that test out part or all of your assumptions. It’s easy to isolate ourselves during critical times when we feel we have to make a fast decision. Take the time to gather facts and include them into the assessment.
  • Continually test your objectivity. One way to do this is to step away for a period time, whether it be a day or week. Decisions made without the bias of emotion, and that consider the full range of options, usually have the best chance of working.

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