By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you enhance the productivity of your teams.
Dom Perignon. Uncork a bottle of that champagne and you uncork the vitality, the effervescence, the bubbly genius of innovative teamwork that we can still learn from today, more than 300 years after the Benedictine monk invented his namesake champagne and virtually created the FIZZ BIZ –the champagne industry.
Before Dom Perignon there was only the fizzle biz where champagne would quickly lose its bubbles (carbonation) and its taste.
How did the famous winemaker from the Champagne region in northeastern France use his leadership and teamwork skills to become the first winemaker to produce and maintain more than 49 million tasty bubbles in every bottle of champagne that no doubt has tickled the noses of most world’s leaders for the last century or more?
After careful research –tasting Dom Perignon over the years at many a leadership toasts (hey, tough work but someone’s got to do it)—and studying the history of the Fizz Biz long before the Cola Wars – I’ve discerned at least three insights from Dom Perignon on innovative teamwork that might work in your organizations too.
Create a Second Fermentation (Teamwork) in the Bottle
- SUSTAINABILITY. Dom Perignon was the first winemaker in Champagne region of France to use corks that resulted in maintaining the second fermentation in the bottle. That innovation spawned the entire champagne industry. Before cork, winemakers used a piece of wood wrapped in a hemp previously covered with olive oil. Not very secure or sanitary. And no shelf life. Champagne had to be immediately consumed or thrown away. But now that cork – carved from old cork oak trees –kept the carbon dioxide from escaping and generated more of those estimated 49 million bubbles that tickle your nose with the aroma and dance on your palate with flavor in a sensory fireworks in your mouth.
- WASTE MANAGEMENT : First to consistently turn the bottles by hand– quarter of a turn every few days for up to 6 0r 8 weeks –to keep the sediment and other residue from settling on the bottom. Dom Perignon designed a waste management system that collected all the residue in the cap and then removed the cap and the residue without losing too much carbon dioxide.
- CUSTOMIZED PROCEDURES: Dom Perignon was the first winemaker to customized his procedures to create more diversity in his grape selection and processing. He was the first to use a blend of both red and white grapes which ultimately produced greater effervescence, the first to use a gentle pressing technique so the red grapes would produce a clearer wine, first to press his grapes close to where they were harvested for greater quality control and less damaged grapes, the first to delay harvesting grapes until the end of summer instead of the first day of summer to give the grapes more flavoring time.
My take away from all of this: Dom Perignon was a patient man. His champagne -making process took up to six years. Today some domestic sparking wines (only carbonated wine made in Champagne region of France can be called champagne) are produced in 6 days.
And Dom Perignon was a diligent and vigilant leader who led the project from all sides, particularly at the back-end when it seems all the work has been done. That’s a learning for me. Every fermentation process will produce waste and waste has to be managed Likewise on a project team, I now know I have to lead quite literally at the back-end of the project. I also see greater value in “corking” my team, providing them a way to contain their exhilarating elixir that can be used to enthuse each other. Do both of those leadership initiatives and soon my team will collective toast Dom Perignon!
Lead both at the front end and at the back-end of a project to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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