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A Case Study in Clarity: How One Company Ensures Employees are Empowered and Productive



So. Did you figure out how you make your company’s “boat” go faster?

If you didn’t read our previous post on productivity, this question may seem a little random. (We recommend a quick read of it here.) But if you did, you may recall that we concluded with what we hope was a thought-provoking question. Do you understand your company’s vision, and exactly how you contribute to it?

If this gave you a little longer pause for thought than expected, fear not. We appreciate that when you’re mired in the minutiae of the modern workplace (social media, we’re looking at you), it can be difficult to get a fix on the big picture. So we thought we’d provide you with a little case study of how one organisation ensures every single one of its 30,000 – yes, 30,000 – employees is clear on both their individual goals and the company’s vision.

The company we refer to is San Francisco-based Salesforce, a cloud technology company. Founded by Marc Benioff in 1999, it’s now worth over $US35 billion and has become the largest tech employer in San Francisco. And Benioff attributes a large part of this phenomenal success to a management process or methodology that he developed while still working at Oracle, before he set up Salesforce. He calls this process “V2MOM”, an acronym that stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. In Salesforce’s first few weeks of operation, he and his cofounders used a V2MOM to define their nascent company’s long-term goals. This same V2MOM, says Benioff, has been used to guide every single decision made at Salesforce since then.

Intrigued? We were. A Salesforce guide to writing your own V2MOM explains the concept further:

Vision

The Vision represents what you want to achieve or accomplish. It focuses on what’s most important to you.

Values

Values represent the principles or beliefs that are most important as you pursue your Vision. They guide everyday decisions.

Methods

Methods represent the actions you take to achieve your Vision.

Obstacles

Obstacles are things that block your progress or make it difficult to accomplish what you’ve outlined. Identifying Obstacles helps you to anticipate challenges and consider how to overcome them.

Measures

Measures tell you and others when you’ve achieved success or completed your Methods. They focus on measurable outcomes.

Sounds great in theory. So does it work for employees as well as it does for a CEO? Absolutely, says Salesforce master solution engineer Stuart Jones. “Having a V2MOM enables me to align, focus and prioritise my goals,” he explains. “I constantly ask myself if what I’m working on aligns with my Methods and Values. If it doesn’t, then why am I doing it?” And because every employee’s V2MOM is shared with every other employee on the company’s unique collaboration network, clarity on goals is both individual and collective. “The V2MOMs give us the ability to understand what our management chain’s vision and values are,” says Jones. “I can then look at my managers’ and their managers’ V2MOMs and make my own interpretations of how they relate to New Zealand and my team.”

So far, so good. But surely the danger here is that everyone obediently goes through the motions – only to lose motivation a few months on? Nope, says Jones. Every Salesforce employee is required not only to write their own V2MOM, but to revisit it at least every quarter. “It is very much an evolving process,” he says. “We gather metrics from dynamic reports like a sales pipeline to judge whether our methods are still relevant three months down the track. It’s not simply ticking a box – it provides real value throughout the year.” In this sense, it is also a powerful tool in promoting employee productivity, he observes. “Our V2MOMs hold us accountable for delivering.”

Indeed, the V2MOM methodology has been so successful that it has now spread beyond Salesforce, with an increasing number of business leaders and companies worldwide adopting the approach. “Essentially, V2MOM is an exercise in awareness in which the result is total alignment,” Benioff explains. “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.”

For Jones, it’s more simple. “A V2MOM provides a clear definition and understanding of what we need to achieve, what we need to do and how we’ll do it,” he says. Alert readers will note that this clarity is exactly what PEPworldwide:nz managing director Kathryn Anda identified in our previous post as the key driver of productivity in companies. Could a V2MOM provide you with a method for managing the everyday madness that impedes your productivity? Try writing one and see. And while you do, consider this. Alongside its spectacular growth, powered in no small part by the efforts of 30,000 engaged, productive employees, Salesforce has also just been voted number one on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” List for 2018.

Go figure.