Good companies are like good wine

Photo at blog from Hans van Nes - 11/11/2010 - 11:13

Selecting, importing and drinking wine is one of my hobbies. Visiting numerous wine fairs during the last decade gave me a fair inside in why some wine makers are better than others. Enjoying a glass of good wine gave me the insight that there are many parallels between good companies and good wine.

The ingredients
No good wine without good basic ingredients: soil, the fitting grape variety and maintaining the vineyard equally contribute to have a chance of making a good product.
No good company without good basic ingredients: a market and products or services that make sense and have added value are a prerequisite for success.

The harvest
No good wine with a bad timed and executed harvesting: the right maturity of the grape and the quick though delicate handling.
No good company without bad timed and executed delivery: the right maturity of the product or service components and the timely inventory of required resources.

The wine making
No good wine without a good winemaker: sorting, pressing, fermenting, blending, bottling and storing all play an important part towards the end product.
No good company without good people: defining, building, documenting, explaining, managing and re-inventing by the right people all parts towards a quality product or service.

The maturing
No good wine if you drink it too young or old: young wine is mostly to harsh to drink and does not invite for a second bottle. Old wine has lost a lot of its taste and smell and can have transformed itself into vinegar. Exceptions are rare and mostly only appreciated by a very small group.
No good company if it is not sustainable: one good idea is not enough to remain in business. Product development is essential to have an offering which is most desired at any given time. New products have a test market but may never grown to become mature. Obsolete products cost money but will bring none.

The selling
No good wine will be drunk if nobody knows: the best wines are often the best kept secret. Either the producer is too small to invest in some marketing or he or she is just an “artisan” not interested in commercial things at all. At the other hand: the famous top chateaus deliver often good wine but at a ridiculous price.
No good company will service if nobody knows: the best products and solutions are often the best kept secret. Either there is no money for marketing or the company swallows itself in their technical capabilities so the audience doesn’t understand the value. And at the other hand: the market leaders have a pricing level which is not always in line with the offering.

Is this comparison a bit too simple for you? Just think about this: wine is a product of nature, with thousands of chemical components which constantly vary under the influence of weather and environmental influences. Making consistently good wine is therefore a combination of knowledge, experience, talent and a good bit of luck. As a result 99% of all produced wine is at best mediocre. Is this so different from the business world you live in?

Comments and ideas as always welcomed.

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