If you lived somewhere where you made bad wine, would it have occurred to you to make champagne instead? Probably not. But that’s what innovation is: taking sour lemons and inventing lemonade.
Consider the real-life history of champagne. Champagne refers to the chalky soil that was very dry and barren. Most people don’t realize that Champagne is grown in regions that make poor wine. These regions had grapes that were acidic and perfect for making champagne. But luckily Dom Perignon found a way to add sweetness and flavor to the poor wine to give it a better taste – but that sweetness made extra bubbles!
Same thing in cognac. That’s why they were the perfect places for the liquors that bear their name.
I toured those regions but didn’t actually realize how innovative they were until I was at a popular champagne winery in New Mexico. I mentioned to someone working there how remarkable it was that they had a winery in the desert area when it wasn’t a great place to grow grapes. The person agreed with me and said that’s why they made champagne. 😉
Only then did I realize that champagne and cognac were invented in those regions because they could NOT grow wine. Necessity really was the mother of invention.
The Champagne Principle is about discovering your special resources, your special backgrounds, and your special techniques. From there you gain a unique perspective on your unique assets to present a unique competitive advantage. Champagne shows that adversity can be nothing more than the gift wrap that surrounds a success.
Often times our unique capabilities, strengths or even disadvantages create an opportunity for differentiation and market leadership.