V2MOM — the ugly ass acronym your growth business really needs

Joonas Kiminki
Aug 6, 2018 · 4 min read

I often speak with people who own and run growth businesses. More often than not, these companies have an urge to grow, but they don’t really know why. A part of the growth even comes somewhat automatically if they are in a growing industry. But why — Why does your company deserve to grow, or even to exist? Why must your employees suffer the inconveniences of growth pains? Are you going to grow until you’re X people or Y millions in revenue and then stop? What is your purpose and how is that visible in your day-to-day?

All growth companies struggle with at least some of these questions — even the ones who are growing to just boost their owners’ egos and wallets. The ego&money rationale might be enough for the owners, but what about staff, partners and clients — what’s in it for them?

It’s one thing to come up with answers to the why-questions of growth and another one to make it tangible for people inside the company or potential new hires that are probably very little interested in making you rich and famous.

I won’t go into how to discover the answers here and now. However, I do advise you to find the answers and get them spoken out loud.

This post is about what to do when you have found your purpose or business vision.

The answer is V2MOM

The acronym (pronounced vee-two-mom) might the ugliest one around, but it’s brilliant. It’s a tool for communicating your vision and values to everybody in the organisation and for everybody to communicate their respective stuff to each other. With this effective and almost effortless communication, organisational alignment is made possible.

Every other vision/values/strategy framework I’ve seen ends up being a stack of paper that very few people read and even fewer ever use for something useful. I know — I’ve filled a few of my own.

The V2MOM process in all simplicity is as follows:

  1. The company somehow (you’ll find the best way for your org) comes up with a set of vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures (hence the acronym V2MOM) for itself.
  2. Every member of the organisation creates their own V2MOM and shares it with others; business units and teams may create their own where necessary but every person from the doorman to the CEO should have one.
  3. Live your V2MOM every day, make it count
  4. Change V2MOMs when things change

The beauty of the model is in its simplicity. The first-ever V2MOM was written literally on the back of an envelope in the early days of Salesforce.com. The original V2MOM from 1999 is even easily available online if you want to google it, but I won’t showcase it here as an example, as it really is just the first iteration and not a super useful one for mimicking.

As everyone has a V2MOM, people need to explain to 1) themselves and then to 2) others, why they work in the company.

The benefits

  1. The company’s V2MOM is a sort of an agreement. It states why the company exists (or at least where it wants to go) and hopes to inspire and guide everybody through that. If the company V2MOM doesn’t reflect reality (your values include being the best workplace around but you treat people like they’re stupid and dispensable) or the V2MOM isn’t inspiring, best to head out to the door.
  2. As everyone has a V2MOM, people need to explain to 1) themselves and then to 2) others, why they work in the company. It’s an extremely educational exercise, try it! Salesforce.com makes every new hire write their first iteration on their first week at the company.
  3. Having an operating system based on transparent purposes and values, the need for hierarchies and control is reduced. In the best case scenario, your one page V2MOM is enough to explain your role in the company to other people that don’t yet know you. The V2MOMs create alignment in the company and help everybody pull the company in more or less the same direction.
  4. It’s all very concrete. No hundred page documents that have no real impact, but rather hundred one page documents that are very personal and tangible.
  5. It’s tried and tested, and this shit works.

As an example, here’s the upper part of my V2MOM from a year ago (as the CEO of Wunder):

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How to get started

Here’s another beauty of the system: it’s super easy to learn. The only good part of the ugly ass acronym is that when you google “V2MOM”, you only get relevant results. The best resource is Salesforce.com’s own training site, and clicking this link saves you from the effort of googling: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/modules/manage_the_sfdc_organizational_alignment_v2mom

As you read the online resources, remember to experiment on how the model would best help your organisation. The best stuff is never in the ready-made recipes, but when you combine those with what’s in your pantry and what your tastebuds say, you’ll get the recipe right.

Happy V2MOMing!

PS. I originally thought that I’ll only post the Vision+Values part from my old V2MOM since the latter parts include information that is not meant for people outside Wunder. However, I later decided to just blur that stuff out. Here:

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