A few months ago I decided, after a long hiatus, to return to the working world. As I submitted resumes and scoured LinkedIn for opportunities, I ran across an interesting post from a company with a name that struck me as, well… a bit kooky! Who were these Cloudbakers, I asked myself, and why do they call themselves that? As I explored the company’s website, I learned about the history of the company and its founder, Mitch Greenwald. Mitch had been a CIO at a $400 million dollar mid-market company, and he decided to leave to start his own cloud services organization. As he puts it, he “jumped off a cliff, and landed on a cloud.”
I was beginning to get a sense of who these people were, and I liked what I saw. In addition to having a strong commitment to a key set of core values, Cloudbakers also repeated the mantra “be authentic, be yourself” all over its website. Now a picture started to form in my mind, and I developed a theory about the name that led me not only to apply for a position at this most interesting organization, but also to accept a role when it was offered to me.
Metaphors Make Visions Easier to Understand
What I came to realize was that “Cloudbakers” is a metaphor, a story-in-a-box, you might say. And not just any old metaphor, but the perfect metaphor to represent the mission and vision of this unique, and uniquely interesting organization. Let me explain...
Baking is an exact science. It is a form of cooking that requires extreme precision to create excellent results. If procedures aren’t followed correctly, a baking project can end with an inedible disaster and a disappointed baker. Yet it is also an artform because everyone has their own preferences on baked goods… some folks love a puffy sourdough with a crispy crust, others prefer a deep, dark pumpernickel or a baguette for their sandwiches. Some people want a yeasty mountain of soft cooked dough, some prefer a crispy flatbread.
The point is that everyone’s bread is different, but the process for making that bread, in every variety and version, must be specific, well-designed, and proven to work in the real world. You can’t take a novice, throw them into the kitchen, and expect to see masterful baked goods emerge hot from the oven.
Bread is a metaphor for life. Back in the day, the word bread was slang for money, which we need in order to live and thrive in this world. Clouds also represent life; they provide the rain that nourishes our grain so we can have the raw materials to make our favorite bread. And rain too is a metaphor for life and livelihood; successful salespeople are called rainmakers because they bring in the money which is the lifeblood of any thriving business.
Cloud is Everywhere
The word cloud, however, has taken on a new meaning in the past few years, because the cloud, in this new, technological sense, has become the place where businesses everywhere are staking their livelihoods. Technology is business in the twenty-first century, even if your business is baking bread. Obviously, an enormous operation like Hostess Brands utilizes technology, but even the bakery on the corner in your neighborhood is very likely to have a point-of-sale system at the front of the store, and an accounting system in the back. These systems live in the cloud, and these systems sustain and nourish our businesses and our workplaces; the places where we earn our bread.
And, like us, every business has its own favorite recipe, its own bread. To make their businesses grow and thrive, companies need technologies and applications that give them competitive advantage, a detailed view into the health of their enterprise, and a way to manage and pay their employees. To make technology create excellent results for business, its implementation, its recipe, must be precise, well-defined, and valuable to the bottom line, where the money is made and the bread is baked. Just as a bread recipe requires precision in both design and execution, a successful app must be crafted precisely and deployed carefully.
Cloudbakers is not only a metaphor for vision, precision, and value in technology and services for the cloud, it is also a story about business in the twenty-first century. For a business to succeed, it must utilize technology creatively, yet precisely. For us to earn our bread, we need to make the right choices about technologies we will use to springboard our businesses to the next level.
The right apps, designed creatively and implemented with care, can catapult a business to success. At the end of the day, a company must look its metaphorical face in the mirror and answer one very important question: What’s your bread?Originally published on August 11, 2017