How to Create Alignment Within Your Company in Order to Succeed
Use V2MOM to Focus Your Goals and Align Your Organization
I’ve always thought that the biggest secret of salesforce.com is how we’ve achieved a high level of organizational alignment and communication while growing at breakneck speeds. 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.
When I was at Oracle, I struggled with the fact that there was no written business plan or formal communication process during our growth phase. In fact, I remember asking Larry Ellison during my new hire orientation, “What is Oracle’s five-year plan?” His response was simple: “We don’t have a five-year plan, we barely have a six-month plan.” (Even for that, there was no written plan, only a budget.) It was our job to figure it out what Larry wanted on our own.
What I yearned for at Oracle was clarity on our vision and the goals we wanted to achieve. As I started to manage my own divisions, I found that I personally lacked the tools to spell out what we needed to do and a simple a process to communicate it. The problem only increased as the teams that I was managing increased.
I went out to look for help. I sought wisdom from leadership gurus, personal development gurus, and even spiritual gurus. Over time, I realized that many of these seemingly disparate sources shared striking similarities. I looked to employ these common threads in my own work, and over time I developed them into my own management process, V2MOM, an acronym that stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures. This tool (pronounced “V2 mom”) has helped me achieve my goals in my past work and helps make salesforce.com a success. Although there are many leadership paradigms and frameworks available to follow, V2MOM offers a new simplicity. It is easy to digest, unlike other programs that take longer to understand than they do to implement.
V2MOM enabled me to clarify what I was doing and communicate it to the entire company as well. The vision helped us define what we wanted to do. The values established what was most important about that vision; it set the principles and beliefs that guided it (in priority). The methods illustrated how we would get the job done by outlining the actions and the steps that everyone needed to take. The obstacles identified the challenges, problems, and issues we would have to overcome to achieve our vision. Finally, the measures specified the actual result we aimed to achieve; often this was defined as a numerical outcome. Combined, V2MOM gave us a detailed map of where we were going as well as a compass to direct us there.
Essentially, V2MOM is an exercise in awareness in which the result is total alignment. In addition, having a clarified direction and focusing collective energy on the desired outcome eliminate the anxiety that is often present in times of change.
In the first few weeks of operation at salesforce.com, I suggested that my cofounders and I define a V2MOM and commit it to writing. Although Parker may have thought it was somewhat strange at the time, something made him save the original salesforce.com V2MOM, which I had scribbled on a large American Express envelope. He framed it and gave it to me on the day of our IPO. You can see how it established a foundation for the company—and how it has steered us to date. In a sense, that V2MOM became our business plan.
Many organizations rely on some kind of rubric or tool to help manage their business. Most common are organizational charts, which are used to delineate the structure of an organization. I never liked org charts as a management tool. They are narrow, they don’t capture the nuances of an organization, and they aren’t empowering for employees. Further, they are static—they don’t spur creativity or encourage change. Another tool that many businesses employ are key performance indicators, metrics used to help measure progress, and some companies look at critical success factors for such events as product launches. We don’t use any of these at salesforce.com. These metrics are stagnant, and they don’t work in today’s fast-moving environment, which requires that companies adapt continuously. Organizations that don’t adapt have problems in the long run, and these antiquated tools don’t inspire constant change.
Create Your Own V2MOM
V2MOM has been used to guide every decision at salesforce.com — from those we made in 1999 to the decisions we make today as the largest high-tech employer in San Francisco. I’ve also introduced it to other business leaders and to musician Neil Young, who uses it to align his goals for LincVolt, his current effort to create a clean-power automobile technology.
The beauty of the V2M0M is that the same structure works for every phase in the life cycle of an organization. We’ve used it as a business plan for our start-up, and we find the same construct to be effective for outlining the annual goals of a public company.
Think about your overall organizational goals or a present-day challenge within your organization, and discover how you can outline the steps to succeed in your effort through the V2M0M process. You might have more than one answer to each question; be sure to prioritize your answers:
VISION (What do you want?):
VALUES (What’s important about it?):
METHODS (How do you get it?):
OBSTACLES (What might stand in the way?):
MEASURES (How will you know when you have it?):
At salesforce.com, everything they do in terms of organizational management is based on their V2MOM. It is the core way they run their business; it allows them to define their goals and organize a principled way to execute them; and it takes into consideration their constant drive to evolve. The collaborative construct works especially well for a fast-paced environment. It is challenging for every company to find a way to maintain a cohesive direction against a backdrop that is constantly changing, but V2MOM is the glue that binds them together.
Learning Objectives – After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Write a V2MOM.
- Identify what a SMART measure is.
- Write SMART measures as part of your V2MOM.
- How to Write a V2MOM
- V2MOM Get aligned. Get inspired. Get talking.
Ready to write your own V2MOM? Should you ask your ”MOM” how? Probably not.
Throughout this module, we refer to our goal setting and organizational alignment process as V2MOM. If you work outside of Salesforce, think about how you can adapt our innovative approach to business planning to drive organizational alignment at your company.
The first step in writing your own V2MOM is to read your company’s and your manager’s V2MOM, talk to your manager to get aligned on the Methods and Measures most relevant to you, and then get writing!
Let’s take a look at some examples of each component of the V2MOM. As we describe each one, think about how you might write your V2MOM accordingly.
The Vision represents what you want to achieve or accomplish. It focuses on what’s most important to you. Writing a great Vision helps you paint a picture of what you want the future to look like.
Speaking of the future, let’s go back to the future (or past) for a moment. Back in 1961, President John F. Kennedy shared the bold vision, “that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” We might not give that a second thought today, but imagine what an incredibly inspiring, aspirational, and challenging vision that was at the time.
Fast forward back to the future. Want to order a book about JFK, or perhaps astronaut pajamas? Look no further than Amazon.com, which has the inspiring vision “To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” That vision is pretty much a reality today.
You might recall from the last unit that the very first V2MOM Vision at Salesforce was to “rapidly create a world-class Internet company/site for Sales Force Automation.” Having achieved that, we moved on to the Vision of providing “Global leadership in providing the software as a service model driven by an enthusiastic and wildly successful customer community, and energized by world-class employees.” Each year, we create a new Vision that boldly describes what we are trying to accomplish. And every function, team, manager and employee does the same.
What is your bold Vision for what you want to achieve this year?
When writing your Vision, think about:
What you want to accomplish? (Keep it to 1-3 sentences)
What impact will it have on your company, employees, customers, and community?
How can make it inspiring, fun, and creative (it can and should be a reflection of you!)?
Values represent the principles or beliefs that are most important as you pursue your Vision. They guide everyday decisions and tradeoffs.
Although JFK didn’t present a V2MOM to Congress, the values to support his vision of putting a man on the moon were clear. He spoke about the dedication and discipline that would be required to make the vision a reality. To get a man to the moon, innovation would have had to be at the forefront of the values. These values likely guided decisions to commit significant resources and staffing to the space program.
Companies also use their values to make clear decisions to support their vision. Johnson & Johnson has an unwavering value of customer safety. In 1982, during a tampering crisis, it pulled Tylenol off retailers’ shelves, costing the company $100 million. A costly move, but one that symbolized their steadfast commitment to their business values.
The very first V2MOM at Salesforce included Values like “world class organization,” “time to market,” and “usability.” Now, our business Values includes words like “trust,” “growth,” and “innovation.”
Which Values come to mind when thinking about the principles needed to achieve your Vision? When writing about your Values, consider:
Which three Values are most important as you pursue your Vision?
How can you describe those Values so that everyone is clear on what it means to live them?
How will these Values guide your everyday decisions and tradeoffs?
Methods represent the actions you take to achieve your Vision.
For JFK, the most important element of the vision was the survival of the person making the first space flight. This goal meant that a lot of unprecedented things had to be accomplished. A few of the methods he proposed were developing alternative liquid and solid fuel boosters, engine development, and unmanned space explorations.
For a company or team, methods are the steps to take to bring the vision to reality. For Salesforce, some of the initial Methods that Marc Benioff and his co-founders scrawled on the back of that envelope were to hire the team, rapidly develop the product, and build partnerships—all critical steps to achieve our initial Vision.
What are the specific actions that your company or team needs to take to achieve the Vision?
As you write out your Methods:
Think carefully about what actions you need to take to achieve your Vision
What 5–8 things do you want to accomplish?
Do your Methods align to the corporate V2MOM? Your manager’s V2MOM?
Prioritize the order of your Methods with the highest priority Method at the top
Keep your writing simple and inspiring
Obstacles are things that block your progress, get in your way, or make it difficult to accomplish what you’ve outlined. Identifying Obstacles before you jump into your work helps you anticipate challenges and proactively consider how to overcome them.
Imagine the obstacles going through the minds of Congress when JFK proposed his vision of putting a man on the moon. Or how about the obstacles in the minds of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) employees who had to execute on this bold vision? JFK acknowledged how difficult and expensive the effort would be and how a full commitment from the nation was required to overcome these obstacles.
Businesses always have obstacles like time, money, hiring the right people, getting internal support, ensuring teamwork, getting to market, or leading by example.
What are the most pressing Obstacles you can think of that will get in the way of achieving your Vision? How might you overcome them? When writing your Obstacles, think about:
What’s going to make accomplishing your vision and executing your Methods difficult?
What do you need to be mindful of to overcome your Obstacles?
What specifically can you do to overcome your Obstacles?
Measures tell you and others when you’ve achieved success or successfully completed your Methods. They focus on the measurable outcomes of your work, not your day-to-day activities. It’s really the ”brass tacks” of it all. A wise V2MOM sage once said, “If you’re not able to measure it, you probably don’t understand what you are trying to achieve.”
For JFK, the one defining measure of success was very clear: “By the end of the decade, get a man safely to the moon and back.” Although he didn’t live to see it, 12 men took “a small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
You might not be traveling to the moon any time soon, but maybe you’re an established startup in the midst of growing your company. Your Measures could look like these:
Hire 200 people in our first year.
Launch our product prototype before the end of second quarter.
Launch our website by February 1.
For each of your Measures, how can you clearly define success? When writing your Measures:
Think about how you know when you’ve been successful.
Focus on the measurable outcomes, for example “80% of managers rated as highly effective.”
Make the measures SMART. Not sure what that means? Read on!
Writing SMART Measures
SMART is an acronym that helps you think through all the elements of establishing clear, actionable, and measurable Measures. When writing your V2MOM Measures, make sure they follow the SMART format.
Let’s break it down
S – Specific – Clearly define your focus and what you’re going to do.
M – Measurable – Quantify an indicator of progress, such as percentages, numbers, targets.
A – Achievable – Set the bar high, yet make it achievable.
R – Relevant – Ensure that the Measure supports the company’s and your manager’s V2MOM Measures.
T – Timely – Set a specific and reasonable time frame for completion.
Want a little more clarity on what SMART looks like?
SMART Measures Look Like This Not This
Achieve market share of 30% in the United States by the end of the fiscal year.
Dominate the U.S. market!
Be rated in the top 3 in Gartner’s Healthcare Magic Quadrant and Forrester’s Healthcare Wave by the end of the fiscal year.
Lead the market direction and shape the evolution of the Healthcare market.
Achieve a top 30 ranking on Fortune’s 2017 Best Companies to Work For list.
Be a Great Place to Work.
At Salesforce, they offer their employees two options for writing their Measures.
Progress Measures: Setting a target number or percentage, for example “Achieve a 75% open rate for customer email campaigns by the end of Q2.”
Completion Measures: Setting a goal of whether or not a particular activity is completed, such as “Launch a blog for internal communications by the end of Q4.”
Writing your Measures is really where the rubber hits the road. So take the time to make sure that your Measures clearly reflect what you’re aiming for—after all, you’re going to be held accountable for achieving your Measures. Get them right!
Tips for Writing Your V2MOM
You’ve got all those V2MOM and SMART acronyms down? Great! Given all our experience writing V2MOMs, we’d like to offer some additional best practices for you to consider.
When writing your V2MOM:
Do This Which Looks Like This
Keep it short
Think CliffsNotes, not War and Peace. Make your statements focused. If your V2MOM is too long, it’s likely not focused.
Choose your words wisely
Words make a difference. For example, you can “empower” users through support or you can ”enable” users with tools.
List your priorities in order
Order your Values, Methods, and Measures in priority order to show their importance. When using your V2MOM to guide decisions, the priority is key.
Make it your own
Don’t copy and paste. No two V2MOMs should be the same. Every individual in the organization should have their own Vision and Goals.
We give employees 90 days from their date of hire to get their feet on the ground and figure out what’s what before they publish their V2MOM. We also ask people who have changed roles to create a new V2MOM.
Sharing to Gain Alignment
Got your V2MOM drafted? Ready to publish it for all to see? Not so fast! Sharing is caring, and in this case, sharing is caring about gaining alignment.
Share your V2MOM with your manager. Make sure you’re aligned with your manager on the focus on your V2MOM. Your manager might have additional Methods or Measures that you’ll want to add to your V2MOM.
Share with your peers. Really? Yes! Wonder why? Well, you need to count on others to achieve your V2MOM. You need their collaboration and support. Showing your peers your V2MOM facilitates collaboration on complementary Methods and Measures. Additionally, your peers might actually be able to turn one of your Obstacles into one of their Methods.
Share with your team. Include your team in the process of writing your V2MOM. It ensures that everyone is on the same page and feels ownership when it comes time for them to write their own V2MOMs from the Methods and Measures you cascade to them.
Based on feedback you receive from your manager, peers, and team, you might need to go back and make changes to your V2MOM. It’s well worth the time and effort!
Follow this formula for success
At Salesforce, we use an app built on our platform to write our V2MOMs. The app makes it easier to follow the steps in writing the V2MOM. And by publishing them on Salesforce, everyone is able to see each other’s V2MOM within Chatter and on the Salesforce app.
You don’t need a fancy app to write a V2MOM. Feel free to download our V2MOM Template from the V2MOM pack. Not only does it look great and work for your yearly goal setting process, you can also use it to kick off new projects and team initiatives.
Vision in the V2MOM defines:
A: The actions and steps to take to get the job done
B: Your 3–5 key objectives for the year
C: What you want to do or achieve
D: The challenges, problems, issues to overcome
Methods in the V2MOM are:
A: Ways to measure your results
B: Beliefs that help you pursue your vision
C: Your long-term strategies to achieve your vision
D: Actions and steps to take to achieve your vision
When writing the Measures portion of your V2MOM, think about:
A: How to overcome obstacles that might get in your way
B: The values that guide your everyday decisions and trade-offs
C: The 5–8 things you want to accomplish
D: The way you know you’ve been successful
An example of a SMART measure is:
A: Lead the market and outpace our competitors
B: Increase market share by 20% in 2017
C: Be a great place to work
D: Be the biggest and most profitable airline