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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

American Innovation Challenging Business Once Dominated By France

John Stossel does a series called "What is Good about America?" where he highlights American greatness.  In the most recent story John talks about the improvements US Wine Manufacturers have made in recent years.  This has resulted in the US wining in a recent blind taste test against the prominent French wines.

So what does this have to do with Lean?  Well the key to the wine manufacturers success is at the heart of Lean Thinking.

Some of the key phrases from the video include:

Experiment & learn something
Try something new - Innovate
Micro-management stiffles innovation
Too many rules are restrictive
New technology feeds new innovation

As you watch the video US Wine Industry Gaining Ground look for these key Lean concepts.

What wasn't mentioned in the video but had to be done was meeting the customers expectations.  The US manufacturers developed wines that the market needed and wanted resulting in profits from repeated business.

As the wine industry demonstrated in this video your business can do the same thing.  Think Lean.  Experiment, learn, try again, break down walls, empower people, and innovate products and services customers want.

I hope you enjoy this since I think it is always nice to reflect on a good story of American ingenuity.


  1. I've talked to a friend who actually works in Napa valley for a wine maker and he basically said the same things you mentioned Tim. The key thing to note is my friend said the French wine makers were really traditionalist and wouldn't change so many of their techniques and they wouldn't experiment. If you don't experiment you'll never learn anything new and won't adapt. If you don't adapt you're extinct.

    Ankit Patel

  2. Tim,

    I think the trick is for US winemakers to avoid what happened to New Coke. It won out in blind taste testing, but fizzled in the market.
    There was a study a few years back that showed that customers, when they knew the price of a wine, ranked it higher. I can't remember the details offhand, but the gist was that when they experimenters shuffled the price tags, the most 'expensive' one still won.
    Seems like there is a lot of value in reputation and perception in the wine industry.
    Thanks for another great post.


  3. Thanks for the comments Ankit and Jeff.

    Jeff has provided a link to the survey that he referred to above:
    It does raise some questions on how the wine testing was done and true customer value versus perception. Nonetheless, I think Ankit was right when he said: If you don't experiment you'll never learn anything new and won't adapt. If you don't adapt you're extinct.