What is the Salesforce ‘Ohana’?

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I’ve recently picked up a habit for blogging, and one question I’ve heard more often than I expected is “What is ‘Ohana’?”. Usually, this question comes from people outside the Salesforce ecosystem, but not always. I’ve written this article to explain about ‘Ohana’ and why it means so much to me.

The Definition

In Hawaiian, wikipedia tells me, ‘ohana’ means family, the concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.

Ohana, in the Salesforce parlance, goes much further than that. It’s all of Salesforce’s stakeholders, be that customers, employees, partners, or communities.

To me, and many others, Ohana is the shorthand for the culture of Salesforce that is played out in every interaction within their broad family. It’s the 4 values of Salesforce (trust, growth, innovation and equality) that Salesforce continuously engenders, and how those values work themselves into everyday lives.

Two Examples

I could go on (and on) about how I went to my first ever User Group meetup, and found a space where I could be myself, practice my awkward social skills and find welcoming individuals (equality). A place of safety (trust), where I managed to upskill and surprise even myself (growth).

And innovation? Fast forward a few years and, although I’ve changed countries, I’m now regularly trying to come up with new ideas to keep the Amsterdam User Group fresh and interesting for everyone, from first-timers to old hands. I see that trying new things is exciting, freshens thinking and unlocks potential.

Instead, I’m going to talk about someone I only knew distantly. I saw a post about a formula for dates on the Success Community (now known as the Trailblazer Community) and asked for a little clarification; the author spent time with me on the phone, talking me through the various steps. They did this for free and without expectation of any reward. There are three follow-ups to this:

  • That person got a better understanding of the formula (this often happens when training someone else!)
  • It was one of the inspirations behind me doing my first ever blog post, so someone else could benefit from the knowledge.
  • It also meant when people have come and ask me for help, I just go ahead and do that. The cultural precedent has been set – I know what is right and what is expected. Even more amazingly, they have, in turn, helped others too. It’s like the positive pyramid scheme, where everyone in the chain gains a richly rewarding experience #PAYITFORWARD

The effect of the Ohana

The values that Salesforce espouse, as demonstrated through their Pledge 1% programme, their diversity, their transparency and their willingness to improve, are very much what we have come to know as the Salesforce Ohana. Salesforce do this internally, but because they also treat their wider family in the same way, it enriches the whole ecosystem.

Salesforce Saturdays

I’m talking about people earning Trailhead badges, exchanging career advice and unblocking technical bottlenecks at work by discussing issues and learning new skills. Entirely led by volunteers, Salesforce Saturday is when people come together at local beverage houses (no coffee shops, to my knowledge) to tackle Trailhead units, have coffee, eat cake and discuss Salesforce challenges. As well as all this, many participants proudly say how they have personally developed (even those in senior roles within their day jobs), and quite a few of the Amsterdam cohort have gone on to lead Salesforce Saturdays in other Dutch towns and cities as well as making new friends en route.

“Saturday Salesforce in The Hague”

Your Experience…

I hope you’ve come away with your own insights about Ohana. Perhaps you may even enjoy some of these action points:

  • How about seeing if you can define an Ohana for your company. What’s your company culture and how do you share your unique offering? Salesforce has written their own Ohana Trailhead module, with quizzes. You even get a badge if you complete it!
  • Why not come along to along to a Community User Group session or a Salesforce Saturday. These are run by volunteers who have seized the Ohana.

Lastly, I must confess that this is just part of my story of Ohana; I’m inspired and renewed every day by the wonderful community of Dutch Trailblazers! Given the positive impact Salesforce Ohana has on all who encounter it, I know new tales are being created daily.

Addendum: Proving that Ohana makes everything possible, this author recently got a very unexpected Golden Hoodie at the Amsterdam World Tour, in the time between filing this story, and it being published. Compliments were shared on my LinkedIn timeline, where one person told me that I was an inspiration to them. I then pointed out that they had helped me through my first exam in a decade, and they were an inspiration to me. The upshot: we can all be mutually inspiring! I love being able to participate within my community – thanks to Ohana!

Author’s note: This article is also available in Dutch!

One thought on “What is the Salesforce ‘Ohana’?

  1. Great article, Paul. As a novice Salesforce Admin, learning on the job, I really value the community help available via Google but I haven’t yet reached out to the community directly. This post has nudged me a lot closer to doing that.

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