What I learned last week is that I have underestimated the impact of the craft movement.
Before last week I knew it was growing in beer, spirits, restaurants. I have even founded a craft bourbon & whiskey company called Brain Brew Scientific Spirits.
However, this past weekend, I learned first hand how powerful the craft movement is. What I learned shocked even me.
I took some friends on a tour of 6 bourbon companies on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The visits were as a tourist not as a professional. We experienced a cross section of companies from small craft to large corporate to some that are in transition. It was during these tours that I suddenly saw the magnitude of the shift in mindset between corporate and craft.
The corporate bourbon tours...
• Were professional, prudent, proper and puckered.
• Talked marketing spin points more than product
• Gave clear safety briefings and politically correct and “safe” answers
• Recited in the third person the history of the brand
• Tour guides had the "happy face" energy of a Walt Disney employee :)
The craft bourbon tours…
• Were authentic,
• Talked product first - with the marketing being an outcome of the product
• Talked care, concern, craft and mind numbing attention to product details
• Gave honest and sometime irreverent answers to questions
• Talked in the first person about what they were doing
• Clearly gave a Sh#t about what they were doing
Of course, all of the corporate bourbon companies were at one time craft. Each was founded by a leader and team that against all odds innovated and succeeded. However over time they’ve lost it.
In most of these cases it was because they sold the company to a company that installed good management in place of the founders great leadership.
What appears to have happened is that leadership was replaced with “good” management. And the “good” management resulted in optimization of todays numbers.
In contrast, leadership of craft companies is focused on tomorrow as much as today. They inspire employees, investors and customers. And, most important of all their first priority is making great, great products - and then - never ending - continuous innovation - of those products.
As Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr founder of the most prized Bourbon in the world was famous for saying....
We Make Fine Bourbon at a profit if we can - at a loss if we must - but always FINE BOURBON.
THINK. How can you bring some of the spirit of Craft companies into your work and life this week ahead.