When in doubt, leave it out

Posted on Jun 1, 2016 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Sometimes, success is in the editing.

What you deliberately choose to forgo, leave on the table — or simply turn down — is what helps keep you focused.

This philosophy is one that has kept Performa, Inc. on course since CEO Jeff Kanzelberger and President and COO Doug Page founded the company in De Pere 21 years ago. They believe in their mission so sincerely that it keeps them on course whenever a new client calls.

Maybe you don’t need a new building, they’ve been known to tell clients. Perhaps what you need, first, is to understand your own culture — and how people can be more productive and comfortable in the space in which you work, live, learn or play — before you even think about putting a shovel in the ground.

Case in point: When Nicolet Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Atwell asked Kanzelberger to design the new bank’s downtown Green Bay headquarters in the early 2000s, he was taken aback to hear, in so many words, “no,” until Nicolet fully understood the culture it wanted to build.

“In reality, it was a very, very healthy process,” Atwell told contributing writer Nikki Kallio, who wrote this month’s cover story on Performa.

Some of the most innovative companies in our region employ this philosophy of editing — knowing not only what you can do, but also what you simply will not do.

In this issue, we feature a special section on the five winners of our Insight Innovation Awards, announced at our THINC! event in May. Among them are Au Naturale Cosmetics, a Green Bay-based company that has carved a unique niche by refusing to include potentially toxic ingredients in its products. Another is NOVO Health, which saves time and money by pushing aside the old system of fee-for-service, and instead price bundling an entire episode of care, from surgery to rehabilitation, quoting a fixed price in advance. I think you’ll find all the stories of our winners inspiring — check them out, starting on page 29.

Yet another example of a successful venture that has made a name for itself by eschewing the ordinary way of doing things is Grow Local, a sustainable farm that distributes fresh vegetables and herbs to regional restaurants and consumers. Their philosophy? “We basically don’t put anything on the product that we wouldn’t want to eat ourselves or feed to our families,” says Alex Fehrenbach, one of three co-owners of the Neenah-based company. See our Small Business spotlight on Grow Local, page 48.

While the notion of editing out helps keep a business focused, on the other end of the spectrum are selective collaborations. In this month’s Connections feature we take a look at the partnerships that organizers of the Mile of Music event are forging with Fox Valley businesses. It’s one thing to put on a huge, multi-day music festival and yet another to keep it sustainable — while growing value beyond just a good time. One idea organizers want to build on is promoting Mile of Music as a positive attribute — and perhaps even marketing tool — to attract and retain young professionals to the area.

In our New North feature this month, Senior Associate Editor Sean Johnson addresses this challenge of attracting young talent head on with an enterprising look at the demographic so many companies are trying to reach. It’s the first in a series of articles he’s planning to report, drawing from existing facts to help paint a clear picture of the sort of challenges we need to tackle in order to make the New North a place where recent graduates will want to come — and stay.

Check out his article on page 10 and I think you’ll see that while we have our work cut out for us, we’ve got plenty of positive attributes to tout along the way.

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →