Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Industries Coming Together

Craft Beer and Conflict Management have several similarities: For one, they are both roughly 30 years old. Sure, prior to 1980 craft beer was around, as was conflict management, but they were unrefined, didn’t have much of a following and neither made many headlines (aside from Anchor Brewing and Camp David Accords, respectively). Today, both industries offer more developed products than those available within the mass market. They both pay attention to detail and do not adhere to a cookie-cutter approach to make the final product more agreeable to the customer. They espouse a sense of community, personal connections and collaboration. And for the most part, craft brewers and conflict specialists started out in their respective industries by following their passions and not the lure of the almighty dollar.

Since these industries are relatively new, they endure growing pains. Both would benefit from an educated marketplace relative to their product. The field of conflict management needs exposure and recognition, while craft beer makes up only about 6% of overall beer sales. Craft beer needs efficient and effective means to handle its recent rapid growth while adhering to their founding ideals. Conflict management seeks to overcome its perceived sense of vagueness and widespread unawareness of its utility in the real world.

Amid these challenges, craft beer and conflict management can benefit each other. Craft beer can offer conflict management an arena to showcase its services, garner experience, establish a track record, and enjoy craft beer. In return, conflict management provides efficient and affordable services that can strengthen craft breweries’ business models, manage potentially damaging disputes and strengthen the human ingredient. Craft breweries enter the business realm of contracts negotiations, such as leases and distribution rights, while some prepare to meet expansion measures. Craft breweries and brewpubs provide unique and time-honored venues where people gather to relax, discuss various topics, and mingle with fellow citizens—something conflict management loves to see.

In these tough economic times it seems paramount that assistance should be a part of any business plan; get help from wherever and whomever. If craft beer and conflict management can help each other grow, just think of the outcome: people actually talking with each other in person, sharing perspectives, producing new ideas and having a great time-all while enjoying some fantastic craft beer!