Behind the Cloud – Part 9 – The Leadership Playbook


Whenever I read a great book, I summarize it so I can learn better and recall it later.  I have been asked to make some of my “Ken’s Notes” available. Here is part 9 of  “Behind the Cloud” by Marc Benioff, the founder of  Scroll to the bottom for links to the other Parts – Ken Krogue

How to Create Alignment—the Key to Organizational Success

Play #100: Use V2MOM to Focus Your Goals and Align Your Organization

The biggest secret of was a method to ensure constant communication and complete alignment. Developed V2MOM: Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures.

  • Vision: helped defined what we wanted to do.
  • Values: sets the principles and beliefs that are most important about the vision (in priority)
  • Methods: indicates how to get it done by outlining actions and steps to take
  • Obstacles: indentified challenges, problems, and issues to overcome to achieve vision.
  • Measures: specified the actual result we aimed to achieve, the numerical outcome.’s First V2MOM, 4/12/1999

Vision: Rapidly create a world-class Internet company/site for Sales Force Automation


1-      World-class organization

2-      Time to market

3-      Functional

4-      Usability (Amazon quality)

5-      Value-added partnerships


1-      Hire the Team

2-      Finalize product and infrastructure

3-      Rapidly develop to beta and production

4-      Build partnerships with big e-commerce, content, and hosting companies

5-      Build a launch plan

6-      Develop exit strategy: IPO/acquisition


1-      Developers

2-      Product manager/bus dev person


1-      Prototype is state-of-the-art

2-      High-quality functional system

3-      Partnerships are online and integrated

4- is regarded as leader and visionary

5-      We are all rich

Play #101: Use a Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approach

Marc rewrites the V2MOM every six months, then shares it with the Presidents committee. Break into teams and implement the V2MOM. Without a doubt, this is the best-kept secret to the fast growth and excellence. Top down communication, then collaborate with employees through the IdeaExchange. Every executive builds their own V2MOM for the coming year down to every employee. Developed an application on called Peopleforce to track all V2MOMs.

Play #102: Build a Recruiting Culture

First V2MOM revealed biggest obstacle was a talent deficit, so hired HR first to recruit better. Recruiting drives distribution.  Hiring is the most important thing to do. Search for raw talent you can shape. Develop a “checks and balance” system where everybody has to interview and review hires.

First trait to look for is attitude, second is aptitude. Marc met all hires and interviewed all candidates during the first two years of business. Ask candidates to present on the fly to see if they have been to the Website and are familiar with products and customers.

Play #103: Recruiting Is Sales

Take recruiting as seriously as sales. Marc is obsessed with hiring. Sell the vision and the opportunity.

Build a Recruiting Machine

  • Don’t wait for resumes to come to you
  • Consider recruiting to be part of your job
  • Include employees in the talent quest: offer a referral incentive of $2000 to $10000 if hired.
  • Add people to your leadership level first: get the guru on your side first.

Play #104: Keep Your Standards High as You Grow

Look for top 5%, scrappy, massive accomplishment and energy, with entrepreneurial drive and something to prove.

Hire innovators, people that are better than you.

Marc now interviews all leadership candidates and requires consensus.  They look for people who want to change the world with technology.

Play #105: How to Retain Top Talent

Now have a two-day orientation for all new hires and everything is taken care of before they arrive so they get off to a good start. Then they all go to dinner at a great restaurant and learn about V2MOM. Make sure they have lunch plans on their first day.

Then give a crash course on the product and an immersion in company culture. Salesforce does a half day “foundation event” with a community service project. Then educate on the brand and culture.

Play #106: The Importance of Mahalo

Mahalo is the Hawaiian spirit of gratitude and praise. Marc borrowed from Apples innovative culture and recognized the small things (like fruits smoothies) to improve culture.  Added a kitchen full of healthy snacks and massages for members of the tech teams as a thank you for each release. Other perks include company-paid gym memberships, free yoga classes, and discount tickets on Hawaiian airlines.

They do a lot of employee nominated recognition and award $500 bonuses.  They also recognize distinguished employees with life-sized posters on display throughout the offices. They reward any salesperson who makes 100 percent of his or her quota to a three day trip to Maui (with a spouse, partner or friend.) Set the bar within reach of all so morale soars all year. To make a real difference give a give to a spouse or child of the employee.

Play #107: Foster Loyalty by Doing the Right Thing

Take the high road look for ways to support your people in their needs. Make hard situations work with personal challenges.

Play #108: Challenge Your Best People with New Opportunities

Evolve positions frequently. Take best people and put them in new regions, departments, or opening new areas out of headquarters. Hire Fast, Fire Fast

ü  Hire A players

ü  Demote B players

ü  Fire C players
Ask yourself, would you regret it if this person resigned?

Play #109: Solicit Employee Feedback—And Act On It

Of Fortune 500 companies, 70% survey employees, and of the 25 best places to work, 92% conduct surveys. They learned they needed more long term career enhancement.

Benchmark for Employee Success

ü  I am doing the best work of my career

ü  I can do what I do best every day at work

ü  I have talked about my progress within the last 6 months

ü  I have someone at work who encourages me

ü  I have opportunities to learn and grow at work

ü  My opinions are sought after and count

ü  I have someone at work who cares about me

ü  I have a support network at work

ü  My coworkers are committed to quality work

ü  I am recognized and rewarded for contributions

Play #110: Leverage Everything

Leverage customers energy to evangelize and sell product, leverage resources to give back to the community, leverage employees networks to tap the best talent. Also leverage the skills of outside organizations to help service, sell, and build the product.

Launched a training and certification program to build a self-sustainable group of experts around product. Made training flexible by offering online and in classrooms. Certification adds value to the individual and the company. If people are learning and earning on a certain system, they want to take it with them when they go, this further evangelizes your system. Use education to leverage and extend your service and expand your capabilities.  You can hire 100 developers or 10 trainers who train 10,000 developers.

Here are links to the rest of my notes on “Behind the Cloud” by Marc Benioff, I’ll notify of new summaries of other books I do on my Twitter/LinkedIn accounts – Ken Krogue

Part 1 – The Start-Up Playbook – How to Turn a Simple Idea into a High-Growth Company
Part 2 – The Marketing Playbook – How to Cut Through the Noise and Pitch the Bigger Picture
Part 3 – The Events Playbook – How to Use Events to Build Buzz and Drive Business
Part 4 – The Sales Playbook – How to Energize Your Customers into a Million-Member Sales Team
Part 5 – The Technology Play Book – How to Develop Products Users Love
Part 6 – The Corporate Philanthropy Playbook – Make Your Company About More Than the Bottom Line
Part 7 – The Global Playbook – How to Launch Your Product and Introduce Your Model to New Markets
Part 8 – The Finance Playbook – How to Raise Capital, Create a Return, and Never Sell Your Soul
Part 9 – The Leadership Playbook – How to Create Alignment—the Key to Organizational Success
The Final Play

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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