Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Keith Richards and Mick Jagger Have to Tell the Wine Industry About Endurance

Terry Post:

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have worked together for almost half a century composing and playing music. Theirs has been a creative collaboration of enduring longevity in an industry where disagreements have dissolved many musical groups during their extended tenure.

Small wineries are not that dissimilar to Messrs Jagger and Richards in that essential element of the enterprise is creativity. Creating music and creating wine takes imagination and a lot of work.

Many small wineries are formed by a small groups of individuals who bring different qualities to the business such as winemaking and business: good teams bring complementary skills.

Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards bring differing qualities to their creative relationship and are greater than the sum of the parts. Each has had an on-again, off-again solo career. What do you remember most - their solo efforts or their combined efforts in the Rolling Stones?

They also have a lot in common having known each other since they were boys - at aged 66 and 67 they have a 50+ year relationship. And, perhaps most importantly, they are good friends.

Ownership teams of wineries should ask themselves if they have the same sort of chemistry, background, and relationship as Jagger and Richards. Are they friends? Do they have a lot in common? Do they have a long relationship?

What then can a small winery do to engineer its management team to ensure success for the long run? Here are my suggestions:

#1: Founding members should all have "skin in the game". That is, they should all have a financial stake in the success of the business side of the enterprise. This usually means that multiple individuals put cash into the business.

#2: Founding members should bring complementary skills to the enterprise. You don't need four winemakers - you need one. There should be a sufficiently wide-array of technical and management skills on the team.

#3: Founding members should already have a long term relationship. I don't mean to imply anything intimate. They should already know one another and should have a long, and I mean LONG, relationship.

Bottom line: Long term success in the music industry or wine industry requires that the senior management team have common goals and complementary skills. If yours does not - it might be time to reform that team with the goal of sustained performance.

~ Terry

Photo credit: uncredited liner art from the 1992 Keith Richards solo album, "Main Offender"

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