V2MOM: Salesforce’s Secret & Why it Works
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What is V2MOM?
In 19 years, Salesforce has transformed from a “startup” to a publicly-traded company with over 30,000 employees. They’ve managed to sustain incredible growth while maintaining strong organizational alignment and communication. As Marc Benioff puts it, “While a company is growing fast, there is nothing more important than constant communication and complete alignment. We’ve been able to achieve both with the help of a secret management process that I developed a number of years ago”.
So what’s their “secret management process?” V2MOM. A management process and acronym standing for vision, values, mission, objectives, and measures. It was implemented in the first few weeks of operation at Salesforce and has continued to ring true today. Benioff defines the different sections of the V2MOM below:
Claire Lew, Founder of KnowYourTeam, puts it, “A vision is a picture of a better place. You see this picture in your head: It’s what you want the world to look like because your product or team exists. In many ways, your team’s vision is your opinion on how you think the world ought to be. A vision answers the question, “What world do you want to create?” Or put even shorter by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce,
“The vision helped us define what we wanted to do.”
Marc Benioff goes to describe values as,
“The values established what was most important about that vision; it set the principles and beliefs that guided it (in priority)”
The team at Lessonly takes a deeper dive and explains company values as, “Company values play a critical role in helping businesses to achieve their goals and objectives. These values shape the identity and principles of the organization, act as a guiding light for employees, and affect the way organizations conduct their business.”
Next comes methods. Benioff explains methods as,
“The methods illustrated how we would get the job done by outlining the actions and the steps that everyone needed to take.”
Methods can be used as a step by step roadmap of what needs to happen for you and your team to accomplish your organization’s larger vision. As an example, the Salesforce original V2MOM methods looked something like this:
- Hire the team
- Finalize product specification and technical architecture
- Rapidly develop the product specification to beta and production stages
- Build partnerships with big e-commerce, content, and hosting companies
- Build a launch plan
- Develop exit strategy: IPO/acquisition
If methods are the steps you need to take to accomplish the vision, obstacles are the things that might stand in the way of accomplishing your vision. As Benioff explains,
“The obstacles identified the challenges, problems, and issues we would have to overcome to achieve our vision.”
From the Salesforce example they lay out the following obstacles,
- Product manager/business development person
Measures are the quantifiable results you’d like to achieve to achieve your vision. Generally speaking, this should be a number. As Benioff explains it,
“Finally, the measures specified the actual result we aimed to achieve; often this was defined as a numerical outcome.”
Continuing with the Salesforce example. They laid out the following metrics to measure and track:
- Prototype is state-of-the-art
- High-quality functional system
- Partnerships are online and integrated
- Salesforce.com is regarded as a leader and visionary
- We are all rich
In order to help you track your vision, values, methods, obstacles, (and especially) measures, we created a V2MOM Update Template that can be used directly in Visible. Check it out here.
Why V2MOM worked for Salesforce
Many of the organizational decisions and directions at Salesforce are guided by their V2MOM. Since the inception of V2MOM, Salesforce has continued to use the management process for individuals and teams. As Salesforce continues to knock out their vision they go back to the drawing board and create a new vision the team can rally behind on an annual basis. You can check out the original V2MOM from April 12, 1999 below:
However, V2MOM can be expanded beyond company wide alignment and can be used for team alignment and individual objectives. After Marc and the entire company define a new V2MOM it is then passed down to teams and individuals. From here, each employee is responsible for creating their own V2MOM. While having the corporate V2MOM to guide their own it’s easy for everyone across the organization to see how their role, goals, and projects can fit into the overall company vision (read: alignment).
What types of businesses can use V2MOM
Any business can use a V2MOM. However, there are certain use cases and types of businesses that generally will benefit most from a V2MOM.
Early Stage Startups
Early stage startups, especially those with lofty growth goals, can greatly benefit from setting up a V2MOM. In the early days of a startup, staying aligned and focused while you search for product market fit, your first hires, and your first customers can be a major challenge. V2MOMs can especially help early stage startups with the following:
A V2MOM can help build the base of a strong startup culture. With the company vision being a picture of what you want the world to look like, it can be a strong tool when hiring and recruiting top talent. If a potential candidate feels strongly about your vision, chances are they will fit into the culture and will have a desire to work with you to accomplish your vision.
Current employees will also be able to see the direct impact their work is making to the different components of a V2MOM. This will help give them the pride and ownership they want out of their work.
Staying aligned while rapidly scaling headcount is a challenge. By having everyone hyper-focused on the vision, values, obstacles, methods, and measures, you’ll be able to keep everyone moving in the same direction.
V2MOM is a forcing function for leaders to lay out their vision and a rough road map of how they will get there. Even if you’re not pitching an exact V2MOM to a potential investor, it is a great backbone for different aspects of your pitch.
For example, the vision and values will help paint the picture of what the company will look like and where you are headed. The methods and obstacles will help demonstrate the roadmap to achieve your vision and a clear demonstration of your understanding of the market (and competitors). And measures are the metrics and projects you’ll track to move forward.
Salesforce expanded their V2MOM beyond as it is used for individuals and teams. Teams can lay out the vision they want to accomplish by using the company-wide V2MOM to guide them. From here, you can take it a step further and let individuals use the company-wise and team V2MOM to create their own individual plan to advance themselves forward.
When V2MOM may not work
Although we mentioned V2MOMs can work for all businesses — there are particular miscues, use cases, and businesses where it may not work as well.
Lack of Communication
Setting your V2MOM is only half the battle. In order to gauge your progress towards the company vision, you need to clearly communicate and distribute your progress towards the vision (particularly the measures section). Companies that fail to properly communicate their V2MOM status, likely aren’t benefiting from the alignment that V2MOMs can offer.
When measuring any metric or goal, it is important that you are measuring the correct thing. This stands true when tracking your measurables. For example, if you want to bring X # of people to your website but find out halfway through your Google Analytics data is wrong that can hurt your efforts over the previous months.
V2MOMs can 100% work for established businesses, but it may not be the best use of time. If a shop or business knows exactly what they’re doing and have been operating in a certain manner for decades, there may not be a need for a V2MOM. If employees are happy and business is stable, there may be a better use of time for everyone involved then crafting an aspirational vision and roadmap.
V2MOM’s should be shared, changed, and discussed regularly. The introduction of V2MOMs for individuals should lead to conversations with their managers around priorities and decision-making processes. Ready to step up your company alignment as you continue to grow? We put together an V2MOM Update Template you can check out here.