Sonder | Why every CMO should learn to bake sourdough
It's time for the artisanal CMO to rise to the occasion.
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Why every CMO should learn to bake sourdough

Why every CMO should learn to bake sourdough

Learning how to bake sourdough bread is the current preoccupation in our household. And it’s like an irony wrapped in a paradox, with a contradiction for a bow. It’s so simple and yet so mind bogglingly complex. How hard can it be you may ask? It’s flour, water and salt, right? Well, almost. There is one crucial ingredient which is crazy complex – the sourdough starter culture.

You see, the sourdough starter is a stable culture of two types of organisms. It is a living thing and is therefore very sensitive to its environment and the way it is treated. Temperature, acidity, humidity, air, water, flour… they all affect the growth of the culture. But the main factor is getting the right room temperature. Culture has a narrow optimal temperature range in order to thrive. To know when your culture is ready, you drop it in some water – sink or swim – if it floats, it’s good.  

The culture is the core to everything and the key to a successful loaf. Once it is ready, you can add the main ingredients – flour, water, salt – then add heat.

Creating a killer sourdough is much like creating a high-performance marketing team. If you get the culture right, you’re more than halfway there. To get it right though requires passion, dedication and a relentless approach to maintaining the optimal climate and conditions.

As with sourdough, the temperature is critical. A big part of the CMO’s role is creating the right climate for the team culture to thrive and grow. They don’t need to define the culture so much as provide the right conditions that allow it to grow, be consistent yet continually evolve. That’s the other thing about creating a sourdough culture, it’s never done, it’s always evolving, always needing attention and presence. It’s not an objective or a KPI, it’s a commitment, an artisanal skill to be mastered.

When the team culture is bubbling, you can add the main ingredients: big problems to solve; resources and strategy. Then, apply the heat! The heat in this sense is the way in which you hold your teams responsible. Heat is to be embraced and encouraged, just don’t overcook it!

If your team’s output doesn’t rise to the occasion, then go back to the culture. Nine times out of ten, that’s where the problem lies.