From Vinegar to Fine Wine

I love analogies because they require us to express and see our thoughts in a different way. I use the “Vinegar to Fine Wine” tool with groups that are clarifying their mission. The tool was shared with me by a colleague, Bruce Klatt, years ago and I do not know its source.

A clear mission statement describes the purpose, role or “raison d’être” of a group or organization. If well written, the mission clarifies what a group or organization does and, conversely, does not do.

The “Vinegar to Fine Wine” tool can be used after the mission statement is developed to draw out what the group will NOT do (vinegar), will do as a tertiary activity for political or social responsibility reasons (water) or will do on an opportunistic basis (milk).

The results of this dialogue could be visualized as a bullseye with the group’s mission (fine wine) as a large circle at the centre surrounded by a smaller ring of activities which the group would do on an opportunistic basis (milk) surrounded by a third ring of  activities the group might do on an occasional basis for political or social reasons (water).

Much like how projects can lose focus and “creep” beyond their terms of reference, groups can experience “mission creep”. The “Vinegar to Fine Wine” tool can be very helpful in getting a group back on track.


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