- V2MOM is one of the easiest strategic planning frameworks to implement and drive organizational alignment
- It has 5 key elements: Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures
- Best for companies with a serious commitment to aligning their efforts and prioritizing transparency
- Pros: Simple to use and understand, cascades from top-level V2MOM to individual V2MOM
- Cons: A well-written one-pager doesn't cut it - constant communication and sharing the company's strategy across all levels are key to its success
Marc Benioff, co-founder and co-CEO of Salesforce, developed the V2MOM framework as a management process tool in the early days.As the company grew, Salesforce maintained operational alignment, and that alignment was - and still is - fueled by the V2MOM framework. Since then, it has become a popular tool for businesses of any size - from startups to enterprises.
But like with every framework, very few manage to extract value out of its implementation.
In this article, we’ll explain why V2MOM is such a popular framework and give you a step-by-step guide so you can incorporate V2MOM into your existing management process.
What is V2MOM?
V2MOM is a strategic planning and goal-setting framework that stands for Vision, Value, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. Its simplicity makes it easy to cascade it inside the organization and focus every employee’s effort toward a single direction.
V2MOM promises to align daily actions with long-term aspirations while increasing business transparency. Although it seems simple to implement, extracting the disproportionate value to the effort required is harder than it looks.
One of its key benefits is that it scales easily across different levels of your organization. You can use it at the level of the company, a business unit, a department, a team, or even an individual. No matter where you implement the framework, you're essentially answering the same five questions:
There is one thing that changes every time, and that is the context. The questions (and answers) become more and more specific the narrower the context gets. For example, the C-suite’s answer to the Vision question won’t be as specific as the regional marketing team’s answer.
Why choose the V2MOM framework?
In addition to its simplicity and ease of explanation, leaders favor V2MOM because of its scalability.
If your organization struggles to communicate its strategic priorities due to silos, this framework can help. You’ll be able to force your teams to link their plans, projects, and daily activities to the business’s priorities while increasing internal transparency.
However, it can't solve deeper issues like toxic cultures, inexperienced leadership, or rigid organizational structures. In other words, V2MOM is not a transformational or change management framework. But it’s a great catalyst for certain processes if the right conditions are present.
As with any goal-setting framework, V2MOM is not a magic bullet that will fix your company’s culture. Manage your expectations and understand how the framework can help you solve certain problems.
How to implement V2MOM?
As with every strategic framework, there is no right or wrong way to implement the V2MOM process.
A great strategy includes three important parts: goal setting, action planning, and progress measuring.
V2MOM adds a small twist to this.
Here are 5 steps to help you define each element in the V2MOM framework:
Step 1: Define Vision
This is your destination. Your Promise Land.
Some people say it’s your WHY, but it’s not. The WHY refers to the past, your Vision refers to the future.
Some questions you can ask yourself to define the vision:
- What is the ideal outcome we wish to achieve?
- What do we imagine the ideal end state to be?
Naturally, this isn’t the place for numbers, initiatives, or product features. Resist the urge. This is the place for an inspirational future state that outlines the benefits of the stakeholders involved.
If it’s your company’s vision, then it’s a Just Cause, a beneficial change your company promises to bring to the world. If it’s your product team’s vision, then it could be the benefit that the user enjoys, thanks to having the product.
The Vision works as a North Star.
“If your team doesn’t have a clear direction, then it’s hard to drive strategy execution and motivation effectively.” - Claude Aiken, Chief Strategy Officer at Nextlink Internet
Everything that follows needs to point or propel you towards it. It’s the fundamental stone that develops company alignment. Once you have this ready, everything that follows (from cascaded V2MOM statements to the rest of the V2MOM) should answer positively to this single question:
Does this help us move toward our Vision?
V2MOM example: Vision
Product team’s Vision: Create the most intuitive platform to teach kids the game of Monopoly.
Recommended reading: 17 Noteworthy Vision Statement Examples (+Bonus Template)
Step 2: Values
Think of V2MOM Values as your company or personal values.
According to the definition, values are principles that help you act in various situations. In the V2MOM framework, they help you determine what kind of behavior both your company and employees need to model so that the vision can be achieved.
We created this article to explain how to create values. But in short, try to think about what matters most to your and your employees. Run an internal survey or a brainstorming session with key stakeholders. Collect insights, make a list and prioritize the most important values that will help you achieve the vision.
V2MOM example: Values
At Cascade, we live and breathe the following core values:
- One customer, one team
- Be strategic and bold
- No BS, no jerks
- Push forward, even when you step back
Step 3: Methods
This is the weakest part of the V2MOM framework. Why? Because it is the most critical part of the V2MOM but it doesn’t get as much attention as it should.
In this section of V2MOM, you can add strategic objectives and initiatives, set goals that the team aims to achieve, or key projects you want to realize within a specific timeframe. Again, avoid including business metrics and numbers at this point. Use the SMART model, and make them memorable so every team member can refer to them by memory when prioritizing their daily efforts.
Whatever you decide, though, you need to ensure that you include both objectives and initiatives in your planning process.
Tip: You can use the OKR framework to complement the V2MOM method and define key goals you want to achieve this year or quarter.
Extra tip: When filling out this part, ask yourself: What are the steps that will bring us closer to achieving our Vision?
V2MOM example: Methods
Product team’s Methods (Initiatives):
- Develop the version(s) of the platform for visually impaired children.
- Teach the game’s rules in less than 10 mins.
Step 4: Obstacles
This is where V2MOM becomes interesting.
No other (popular) goal-setting or strategic framework has this element. In fact, it's one of the most valuable elements of the V2MOM framework. Why? When you outline the obstacles you expect to face on your journey to achieving your vision, you can take a PROACTIVE stance and prepare accordingly.
A proactive stance manifests in two ways:
- You allocate resources differently to account for future troubles
- Your focus is reinforced. When you know what challenges lie ahead, you can reject activities that will have no impact on your goals
A quick way to spot obstacles is to ask this question:
What does failure look like?
And then dig deeper with:
What challenges do we need to overcome to avoid failure?
V2MOM example: Obstacles
Product team’s Obstacles:
- Weak understanding of a visually impaired child’s needs
- No test users for the first version of the platform
Step 5: Measures
Have you made any progress toward your vision?
How do you know if you are still moving in the right direction?
“Measure. If you don't have data, you don't know where you’re going.” - Melvin Manchau, Digital Strategy Director at Salesforce
It's time to talk about numbers. In SMART, the "M" stands for Measurable, or metrics. Motivating your team with ambitious and inspiring goals is great for sparking momentum, but you need to know that you are getting closer to achieving them.
Any leader can set up a couple of indicators to understand progress. And most leaders do. But measuring progress is a tricky game and can lead to catastrophic blind spots if you don’t play it consciously.
Here’s what you need to know.
You shouldn’t rely on a single, all-revealing metric that tells you how great your team is with a single glance. It doesn’t exist. Instead, choose a set of metrics that collectively give you a 360° view of progress. Look for three distinctive metrics:
- Lagging KPIs: These are the traditional business metrics that describe past efforts’ results. Useful, yes, but incapable of revealing future results.
- Leading KPIs: These are action-based metrics that you can directly influence and let you know whether you’re going to hit your lagging KPIs.
- Counter KPIs: Determine one or two of these to make sure you’re not over-optimizing for certain lagging KPIs while unwillingly digging your future self’s grave.
V2MOM example: Measures
Product team’s Measures:
- (Lagging) Number of users dropping out before starting their first game
- (Lagging) Number of visually impaired children that complete their first game
- (Leading) Hours spent in researching and developing new features
- (Counter) Number of players that quit their first game
A V2MOM example
As Ebony Beckwith, Salesforce’s Chief Business Officer, explains in her Forbes interview, “each year, every department, and every employee drafts their own V2MOM.”
How do you craft a departmental or personal V2MOM document that aligns with those coming from the top?
This is the million-dollar question that all implementation problems boil down to. Let’s see what the V2MOM document of a fictional and ambitious sustainability leader called Jane could look like:
Make the firm the first in the industry with 0 environmental footprint.
- Decrease the company’s carbon footprint to 0% by 2030
- Adjust processes and operations, so they fit the local environmental and socioeconomic conditions by 2025
- Shift the company’s energy sources to alternative, sustainable sources by 2025
- High cost of transformation
- The complexity of operations is massive
- Legislation prevents certain decisions/changes
- Manufacturing’s water usage
- % of the energy supplied by sustainable sources
- Cost of new technology and ROI timeline
This is just an example that you can use as a starting point. Jane and her team will and should brainstorm solutions, get more specific with the Methods, and ground the Vision and the Values in reality before committing to this V2MOM document.
But this example sets the tone for each part of the document and how Jane and her team should think about it.
Tip: The same structure can be easily used as a personal V2MOM example for each team member.
4 Final Tips To Create Your V2MOM
Implementing a framework out of the blue is rarely a good idea.
And we don’t really believe you ever had that intention. We’re sure you’ll bring your critical thinking, past mistak.. *ahem… ahem…* experiences, and your best people in the process.
Our team has prepared a few extra tips just in case you need them:
1. Respect the order of the elements in V2MOM
It might seem obvious to some, but here's what the rest should know.
It’s challenging to fill out a V2MOM document. You’ll find that some elements will be hard to fill or distinguish from other elements. Naturally, you’ll want to skip them. Don’t. The order matters.
As you begin with the Vision and end with the Measures, you need to define the destination and then work backward from there on how to reach it. Then, knowing how you’ll measure your progress, you can determine the immediate first step toward it.
This is how you build focus and momentum for strategy execution.
2. Keep it short & simple
One page short.
Long V2MOM documents tend to include a lot of fluff and don’t cascade easily. Keeping it concise forces you to make tough decisions on prioritization that pay out in the mid to long term.
A V2MOM document loses half of its value if it's long or too complex.
Tip: Avoid acronyms or jargon, and use memorable language to provide clarity.
People’s decisions are more targeted when they understand and remember their destination.
3. Experiment and allow space for learning
Theory and reality are not exactly BFFs.
Reality tends to bully theory until the latter breaks. In general, reading a guide on how to implement a framework like V2MOM is a great starting point. But the sacred part of the struggle is during execution. When you attempt to adopt a framework for the first time, you meet resistance and make a ton of mistakes.
Expect it, and don’t rely on its successful implementation too much until your business matures enough. Start small and expand as you gain experience and small wins. Give your people the time to learn and adjust, and make sure you adapt your approach with every next step to make V2MOM fit your culture.
You can read this article that explains how to set team goals based on learning and collaboration.
4. Use the right tools to track your V2MOM
Make V2MOM more than a "set it and forget it" exercise.
You need to know if it’s working at any given time. You can do this in static tools like spreadsheets but you will heavily rely on an individual’s diligence. If you want to move away from time-consuming manual entries and inaccurate data, you should be using tools that can scale across the entire company and give you real-time visibility into performance.
Leaders and teams can co-create V2MOM with Cascade's Strategy Execution platform, track results, and make informed decisions. You can easily assign ownership to drive engagement and accountability across the organization. On top of that, you can create independent plans and V2MOM documents while linking them all with the company’s overarching strategy.
Use V2MOM to close the strategy execution gap
According to the 2022 Strategy Report, 63% of C-suite engage with the strategy weekly, while this is only true for 18% of Team members. There is a 45% gap, and it's just getting bigger. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to understand both why this is happening and how to avoid it.
Why? Engaged and motivated employees are critical for strategy execution. When your employees don’t know the company’s priorities, they can’t adapt and help you steer the organization in the right direction. This can ultimately lead to negative business results and loss in market share.
In the words of CEO Marc Benioff, V2MOM can be the glue that binds your teams together. And that’s essential if you want to perform well in times of rapid change and crisis.
Frequently asked questions about V2MOM
What is V2MOM in Cisco?
While Cisco didn't use V2MOM, they adopted a different framework to boost collaboration within the organization, align their goals, and promote strategic clarity. The framework is called VSEM, which stands for Vision, Strategy, Execution, and Metrics. It is quite different than V2MOM, but it is very similar to the Cascade Model.
Why is strategic alignment important?
It helps you to create a high-performing environment with engaged employees who have a clear understanding of how their daily efforts contribute to business success. You can read more about strategic alignment in this article.
How do you align with business objectives?
For teams, departments, or individuals to align with business objectives, they must understand the organization's vision and goals. Using this approach, they will be able to understand the context of their daily actions and prioritize initiatives that are aligned with business goals.
In practice, this means the company's V2MOM document should be made available to all employees. You can either make a copy for every employee’s desk, publish it in your communication channels or use a digital platform that keeps everything in one place at any given time.
What is the difference between V2MOM and OKR?
The V2MOM and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework are both about creating strategic alignment and driving strategy execution across the organization. While the V2MOM framework emphasizes a top-down approach, the OKR framework requires a collaborative approach. You can read more about OKR's benefits and hidden traps here.