Creating Alignment Is the Key to Organizational Success

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Book Excerpt: Focus your goals and align your organization around them.

"We have achieved success by approaching business in a new way," writes salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff in Behind the Cloud: The untold story of how salesforce.com went from idea to billion-dollar company-and revolutionized an industry. "The new models we have created-for marketing, sales, technology, finance, global expansion, and leadership-have been effectively employed by other companies, and we believe that any company can succeed with our strategies."

In this excerpt from Behind the Cloud Benioff and coauthor Carlye Adler reveal how to focus your goals and align your organization around them:

The Leadership Playbook-Play #100: 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 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 in to 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 makes 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 the 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.

At salesforce.com, everything we do in terms of organizational management is based on our V2MOM. It is the core way we run our business; it allows us to define our goals and organize a principled way to execute them; and it takes into consideration our 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 us together.

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About the Authors:

Marc Benioff is the chairman and CEO of the enterprise cloud computing company, salesforce.com, which he cofounded in 1999.

Carlye Adler is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, Wired and Time.

Excerpt from Behind the Cloud: The untold story of how salesforce.com went from idea to billion-dollar company (Jossey-Bass). Copyright 2009 by Marc R. Benioff. Reprinted with permission.

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