SalesForce.com’s Greatest Secret: Art of the V2MOM

In this article I will describe what Marc Benioff, CEO & Founder of the first Saas to go public and first dot com on the NYSE, Salesforce, has referred to as “Without a doubt, our best kept secret to the fast growth and excellence we achieved.” ​Salesforce went from being a startup in a one room apartment to $5 billion in annual revenue in 15 years, the fastest of any enterprise software company.

Creating a company geared for high growth without proper strategy is like getting in a Formula One car held together by super glue. A good business plan can range between 25–100 pages, although necessary at some point , does not make aligning an entire organization a simple task. Nor is it practical for startups embracing the lean startup methodology in which constant pivots require a new business plan every few weeks or months. Good-luck on-boarding every new addition to the team by dropped a fifty page stack on their lap and a pat on the back.

Welcome to the V2MOM (pronounced “V2 mom”). This acronym stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures.

  • vision: ​define what we want to do as a company.
  • values: ​establish what is most important about the vision.
  • methods:​ how we would get the job done by outlining the actions and the steps that everyone needed to take.
  • obstacles: ​the challenges, problems, and issues we would have to overcome to achieve our vision.
  • measures: ​specify the actual result we aimed to achieve, often defined as a numerical outcome.

The goal of the V2MOM is create complete alignment. Immediately after writing it, share it with your top officers for input (for a startup, this is probably everyone). The brevity ensures a simplicity that is easy to digest. Clarified direction focuses collective attention on the desired outcome and eliminates anxiety in times of change. It is easy for people to connect with and scan quickly for alignment. The V2MOM is flexible enough for startups as well as public companies.Benioff states that he rewrites the V2MOM every six months, which for startups would be more likely every two to three months or as needed. Tweaks of the V2MOM support iteration based learning, which is critical for startups to adjust course to a successful business model. As goals and priorities shift, V2MOM is able to reflect that without creating a Frankenstein of a business plan. Benioff states, “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.”

Make your own V2MOM:

Here’s a copy of Salesforce.com’s first V2MOM

I’ll leave you with this Eisenhower gem: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

I hope this helps!

About the author: Alex Moskov is a serial entrepreneur and cereal destroyer. He is a self-improvement junkie and a master of self deprecating humor. He is also very humble. More humble than you are. Probably in the Top 5 Humble People Under 30 in the game right now. In his arsenal of skills and interests, he also writes. And it’s not always in third person describing himself. Like this.