How to VPMOM

How to write a one-page operational plan

VPMOM is an exercise in awareness. When correctly implemented it results in total alignment across organizations while executing at high speed. VPMOM (pronounced “Vee Pea Mom”) is an acronym for vision, priorities, methods, obstacles, and measures and is expressed as a one-page document communicating these five areas of a strategy.

VPMOMs are the API resourcing and ROI measures at our company.

Structure

Writing good VPMOMs is a critical skill for leadership in thinking through what they are asking of their organizations and concisely laying out how the organization should operate, make choices and measure progress.

When you write a VPMOM, imagine that you’re posting it to both your organization and the company as a whole, and can have no further communication for the quarter. Your organization and its service providers within the company and outside the company, need to use your VPMOM to plan, prioritize, execute and make trade-offs during the quarter, and present to you at the end of the quarter what they have achieved based on what you have asked.

Assume your team is high performance and will aspire to 150% of what’s been required, but due to circumstances beyond their control they have achieved only 70% of what their own aspirations. Your VPMOM should ensure the right priorities were delivered, which feed into the VPMOMs across the company that depend on your success.

Vision

  • One sentence definition of what we want to do

This is a summary sentence to concisely communicate priorities.

Priorities

  • List of the most important parts of the vision in priority order

When an organization needs to make trade-offs, the VPMOM tells it to cut the lower priorities in order to achieve the higher priorities.

Methods

  • List of what’s needed from everyone to get the job done

Obstacles

  • List of key challenges to be overcome to achieve our vision

Measures

  • List of desired results, often numerical

VPMOM Example

Vision

  • Operate efficiently with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are aligned, documented, easy-to-use and deliver value quickly

Priorities

  • Alignment - SOPs should clearly align to vetted VPMOMs

  • Documentation - All SOPs found online through web search

  • Ease-of-use - Experience of using SOPs is fast, obvious and forgiving

  • Agreement - RAPID feedback and agreement achieved

  • Fast time-to-value - We move faster with SOPs, not slower

Methods

  • Education on how to draft, RAPID review and publish SOPs

  • Table of Contents - Public list and link all SOPs at Operations section of handbook.mattermost.com

  • RAPID review - Update SOPs with RAPID stakeholder review

  • Onboard and train - Include onboarding, training for new and updated SOPs

  • SOP iteration - Measure, monitor and manage SOPs

Obstacles

  • Too many procedures stored in email, channels and tribal knowledge

  • Too many undocumented, unclear procedures

  • Duplicate, conflicted procedure documented

  • People not knowing about and/or following SOPs

Measures

  • All SOPs are clearly tied to a VPMOM

  • 90% of non-confidential SOPs can be found via a web search

  • <5% error rate by SOP

  • 80% of SOPs document RAPID sign-off within last 12 months

  • NPS of 20+ on SOPs from users due to ease-of-use and speed

Commentary

In this VPMOM “Alignment” is the top priority. We note in the obstacles that the organization suffers from duplicate and conflicting SOPs today. If there was only one thing achieved in this VPMOM during the quarter it would be aligning SOPs with VPMOMs. This is measured by “All SOPs are clearly tied to a VPMOM”

The next priority is “Documentation” with a measure of “90% of non-confidential SOPs can be found via a web search” to surface SOPs to further ensure alignment and removing conflict.

We note here that Documentation and Alignment are interlinked, and that there are multiple ways we could have priorized the two. For example, if we have gaps in VPMOMs then Alignment this period might not be feasible and we could prioritize Documentation, and we may end up documenting duplicate and conflicting SOPs, but in doing so resolve them.

When you write a VPMOM you need to decide how to prioritize the elements of your vision so that our organizations know how to make decisions. It’s okay to get things wrong once in a while so long as we are right most of the time, and we can course correct when we make a mistake.

VPMOM Template

The following template is used to lock annual VPMOMs in one page. Anything that doesn’t fit on one page should be added to the “Commentary” section at the end of the one page VPMOM.

# [TITLE] VPMOM Plan ([INITIALS OF DRI])
Vision
- [Define what you want to do in one sentence]
Priorities
- [What are the relative priorities of the elements of your vision?]
Methods
- [What are the steps and actions everyone needs to take?]
- [Include hiring and on-boarding if you plan to increase headcount]
Obstacles
- [What are the key challenges to be overcome to meet vision? (typically outside your control)]
Measures
- [What are the actual results we want to deliver? (typically numbers)]
[Commentary on anything RAPID should know that doesn't fit within the one-page V2MOM structure.]

History

VPMOMs are a fork of V2MOMs created in 1999 by Marc Benioff to align the efforts at Salesforce.com.

One key difference is we use the term “Priorities” to describe the stack ranked priorities of the “Vision”, instead of the word “Values” which gets too often confused with a company’s “Core Values”. Also, people would get confused thinking a specific method or measure was the priority for the vision, and it became necessary to be explicit on the priority for the vision.

For example, a VPMOM for R&D may have the bulk of methods and measures on product delivery, and the Vision statement may have many elements, but when “High Quality” is clearly listed as the top priority it is unambiguous what our focus needs to be.

Also, VPMOMs are defined by Mattermost and therefore can be optimized for our business and cadence. Whereas, V2MOMs have been used for over 20 years at different organizations, in different ways, in different eras, in different departments and when we tried using V2MOMs in the past they created too much inconsistency and confusion, despite good intentions.