Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Company with an Agile Core

I keep tripping over a fascinating company with an intriguing set of values, processes and services. They are committed to community, to making the world a better place, to taking innovation to a new level, and at the same time are commercially very successful. And no, I don't work for them... yet.

Salesforce.com. What's the big deal? CRM as a service, so what? Sourceforge has taken the "R" in CRM seriously, and have nurtured a core competence that's sure to keep them in the lead. We're already seeing these dynamics in play in their ongoing dance with Google. It's refreshing when companies actually do what they believe in. It provides a fundamental driving force that accelerates their success... inspiration.

They Care

The Salesforce Foundation was set up within a year of the start of the company. The "Power of Us" philosophy is a core value of the company: giving back to the community. 1% of employee time is allocated towards community projects, 1% of the product is donated to nonprofit organizations, 1% of revenue is used to finance this capability and to reduce their environmental footprint. In their own words:
The launch of the Foundation came less than a year after the launch of the company with the goal of building philanthropic programs at the very beginning of the company's existence rather than waiting until the company had reached a certain level of 'comfortable success'. Our belief is if emphasis is placed on philanthropy from a company's inception, the value of service will be a core cultural value that is built into the fabric of the company.

They're Agile

Salesforce is also doing Agile in a big way. They've swallowed the pill and are demonstrating the results, propelling forward. Using their Adaptive Development Methodology, they're leading the evolution of the Agile corporation by scaling the principles, embedding them into their DNA.

Keep it simple, listen to your customer, iterate, radical transparency, encourage experiments... are all part of the core values that are accelerating this organization. Watch the ADM presentation from the Agile 2007 Conference, you will come away inspired.

They're Innovative

Salesforce.com is taking a traditional data-driven CRM product and creating an open community-building and innovation management platform. It's still raw and complicated, but already they've implemented huge improvements in this challenging segment. Things like facilitating collaboration innovation, providing flexible connections between relational entities, and creating powerful templates to kickstart major projects (including a very creative implementation for nonprofits).

Going Forward

All this of course is inspiring me to wade in further, past the knee-deep level I'm currently implementing. Perhaps, as I delve further, the limitations and idiosyncrasies may leave me jaded and cynical. Somehow I don't think so. It's time to take innovation to the people, and Sourceforge is on the playing field. A company worth keeping an eye on...