Drawing Toast, Powering Outcomes and Delivering Delight

CloudCherry | Featured | December 29, 2017

Startups by nature are ever evolving. Everything in nature is. Believers in Darwinism would vouch for the benefits of evolving faster than the ecosystem. Startups with a short half life would do well to read up on the Origin of the Species and fast forward to today.

That was the overarching thought with which the management team decided to shun data and connectivity to solve some wicked challenges confronting us using the power of Systems Thinking. But first, we had to solve the basic problem confronting us. How to Draw Toast? Confounded? Well, a quick look at Draw Toast might make my thoughts seem more scientific.

The biggest challenge for me was to ensure I did not induce bias into proceedings. I have been told that this was the FIRST major brainstorming exercise at CloudCherry since inception that I played no role in. I played arbitrator for the odd tangle or two but for the most part I could sip on my Chai/beer depending on time of day or night and watch as an incredibly talented and driven team discussed, debated and finally agreed upon what we need to do to ‘Power the Outcome Economy‘.

Taking over the world could come later – we first had to draw toast and after much debate, this is how the team agreed that pros draw toast.

Now to the wicked problem – It all started with defining the Value we had chosen as a central one in our V2MOM for 2018 as sketched to brilliance here.

The teams then got down to the task of drawing their solutions in silence. It must have taken 45 odd minutes for each of them to draw out their thoughts. Sales leaders like Rose and Vijay took a sales-centric approach while Arvi took a product driven approach to the outcome. Irrespective of where you came from, a few things were inescapable

– The outcome required systems thinking to ‘solve for’
– Each team depended on the other for key deliverables
– The progress wasn’t linear. Instead, interdependent steps powered progress from one node to the other
– The devil IS in the details
– A lot of fighting was a pre-requisite

You can see the progress of the activity in these pictures.

You might also notice, if you pay attention closely to the evening turning to night and the night giving way to the harsh reality of daylight. Time “flies”, doubly so when a deadline is due. The teams started sharing notes, aligning around the nodes that defined this activity and started pinning their thoughts on to the wall and almost miraculously, we had a wall full of activities, steps and interdependencies which told us exactly what each of us had to do to make CloudCherry relevant in the Outcome economy.

My final task (after first being generally absent, then playing the odd arbitrator and generally pouring beer/wine for everyone) was to ambush everyone with a video request. One shot, no retakes, no script – just to capture the ‘real time’ recap of what the whole exercise’s outcome had been.

The video is here and I don’t think a script could have captured what we did with any more clarity if we had done this a hundred times over.

Vote of thanks time and I have two people to thank for helping me shape my thoughts here:

– Our board member Rajani Ramanathan, who got us on V2MOM and who encouraged me to get everyone to ‘Draw’ our V2MOM

Priya Khosla, who helped me with the Drawtoast framework and guidance on how to conduct and run the whole exercise. Priya’s husband Karthik is part of the core team but funny enough had to fly back to Singapore early to work on closing a massive deal. Startups life is all about the trade offs you make I guess!

I would highly recommend Drawtoast as a specific exercise and V2MOM as a general framework for any startup. It is never a day early for either structure or systems thinking!