I am in the middle of a home renovation. Last week, my building contractor installed four windows and two spankin' new full-view doors in what was once a simple screened breezeway. But that created a problem: the windows looked too tiny and porthole-like next to the expansive doors.
My kitchen designer suggested a solution. Rather than scrapping the windows and buying four larger ones--at a point when the project budget was already giving me agita--why not add some bit of architectural detailing or molding beneath each window?
The windows, now framed differently, would in effect be elongated and fit better with the doors. What's more, the detailing would dovetail nicely (better, actually!) with the new look and feel of the house.
Then, this week, I was opening a bottle of my "house-pour," a sturdy and reliable Bonny Doon red. Around the bottle's neck was a humorous little piece of marketing collateral about the bottle's Stelvin closure system, better know in wine circles as Le Screw Top.
The collateral is designed to counter the perception of screw-top wine as the default choice of college parties and street bums. It details the "six stages of closure," which end, of course, in the spurning of cork and eventual acceptance of the screw top as a symbol of superior wine and the gateway to social grace and the admiration of one's peers. (See www.deathofthecork.com.)
So what do these two unrelated events have to do with one another? I confess: probably not much.
Except that, in both instances, adversity became opportunity. Bonny Doon is distinguishing itself in a highly competitive market by taking what could be a liability (a screw top) and turning it into a point of differentiation. (And it helps that it delivers its message with a hefty dose of humor.) Similarly, my designer saw an opportunity to not only correct a detail but actually enhance the larger design.
Somewhere there is a business lesson waiting to be distilled. Maybe it's this: When facing an obstacle—whether in the form of individual perception, popular culture, or institutional tradition—what you may actually have on your hands is a chance to turn your most-feared weakness into your greatest strength.
Until next week,
Chief Content Officer