Think about the pieces of technology in use in your organization or your team today. In most nonprofits out there, you’d be surprised that there are dozens and even up to 50 different pieces of technology being used across your organization. In today’s episode, I am joined by Tim Lockie of The Human Stack, who specializes in optimizing this interface between technology and humans. Learn how these tech systems work within the ecosystem, and how a CIO plays a part in managing these interactions—regardless of how big or small your organization is. We also discuss the skills required for a chief information officer (CIO) position, the need for effective communication and collaboration within organizations to harness the power of data, the challenges nonprofits face in utilizing data effectively, and how you can take action to address these challenges.
Key takeaways for a small nonprofit:
- Recognize the value of a chief information officer (CIO) role: Understand the importance of having someone dedicated to managing information systems and leveraging technology for fundraising success.
- Focus on effective communication: Emphasize the significance of clear communication within the organization, especially when it comes to data management and utilization.
- Utilize existing talent: Consider that individuals already within the organization may possess the skills and willingness to take on the CIO role voluntarily, rather than being assigned to it.
- Address the preconditions for success: Ensure that basic professional proficiency exists within the organization, as transitioning to a CIO role can be achievable at various skill levels.
- Observe and provide support: Take the time to observe team members’ work processes, identify areas where assistance can be provided, and actively collaborate to improve data management practices.
Tim’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tlockie
- The Human Stack | Nonprofit Digital Health Quiz
- Digital Driver’s Ed – https://hubs.ly/Q01RS95Y0
- Blog – https://hubs.ly/Q01RS9Mb0
Click to read the auto-generated transcript of today’s episode
Alexandra: Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Tim. I’m gonna go ahead and let you introduce yourself.
Tim: Hi, I’m Tim Lockey. It’s really exciting to be here. I love talking about the topics we’re gonna talk about with people that are in this industry, that care about it, that care about people, technology, impact, fundraising, and so I’m really excited to be here. I.
Alexandra: Me too. And we are both in the mountain time zone, one of my few guests where we get to share that. So Tim’s in up in Montana, and I’m down here in Colorado.
Tim: It is the flyover time zone
Tim: You pointed that out the other day and I was like, that’s so true. People don’t know about mountain time. So yeah, absolutely. Glad to talk
with somebody that’s in my time zone.
Alexandra: Excellent. So today we are gonna dive into the secret life of CIOs and why we actually need them, what they do, and how we can even figure out how to create that. More voluntarily than voluntold, as you said. because we actually do have the skills and capability of doing this no matter how small our nonprofits are.
So before we get too far down, let’s talk a little bit about what we meant when you brought up this idea of a cio, like what is that actually, what does that functionally mean for nonprofits versus like Silicon Valley?
Tim: It’s such an emerging thought for me, and it’s exciting to talk about it at the outset of this because I feel like this is, The next evolution in the work that I’ve been doing, which has all been kind ofdiscovering is the problem here? Why are we ha, why do we have so much technology that we don’t use well in the nonprofit space? And so I’ve been on a year’s long quest to really identify that I rebranded as the Human Stack about a year ago, simply to be able to focus on. what does it look like to think about technology and to not focus on the tech, which sounds a little bit strange. So I’ve started to shift the language even on that a little bit and to say we [00:04:00] should start saying information systems. And the reason for that is that if you’re talking is, instead of IT information systems are half human and half technology. Whereas if you’re talking it, then it’s all, you know, information technology, but humans are part of the information systems and so they get folded into that. And we just as an industry as a tech industry, not nonprofit, but as a tech industry, tech has not figured out how to work well with humans. It just hasn’t, and I don’t blame it. Like I think working with humans is really hard and working with tech is really predictable. So like you can understand it, you know? And I sometimes I joke about bad at tech people and bad at people. People and I, it feels like the bad at people. People go into technology and the good at people, people are bad at tech, right?
The, it’s not actually like that. I’m not making that claim, but that’s sort of how it feels. And so it is funny because what that ends up meaning is that tech is written by. Good at tech people and maybe not as good at people. People. Right. Um, and so I think that it’s understandable how we got here, maybe is what I’m saying. So, recently I’ve started doing, a new flavor of the work, which is, and I, I’d love to tell you more about it, called digital driver’s ed, but part of digital driver’s ed, which is my online course, is collecting a current state analysis of where organizations are. And I used to do this as a discovery, but I did not go very far in it on the non-CRM systems that organizations were using. So I was shocked, like blown away when the first time I did this analysis with an organization, they had 48 systems and this was a staff that had six people. And what I’m discovering is that most organizations, even small ones, less than 10, staff have between 30 and 50 systems. And what consultants have focused on is one system, usually the crm, and there’s a reason for that, but it’s usually the crm, and that doesn’t go wide enough.
All that does is it means that you’re like good at one tool. And you’re not thinking about the interoperability of the humans using the other tools. Right. And when I started to think about what is that role, what is that thing, it’s not like, you know, you hear about accidental admins or accidental techies or my my phrase is digital voluntolds. but when you hear about all of that, what we’re not doing enough of is thinking how do we do the wide angle training? Required to help a team use a system? Well, across all of its, 40, 40, plus systems. And I think that that’s mostly a C O, right? in a larger organization. And I think we need to start normalizing the fact that we need a c a functional CIO role, even in small organizations. And I think I would’ve argued in the past, that’s overkill. Like we don’t need a. We don’t need a C-suite. Anything in a small, you know, a really small organization. Hey, that’s not true. B, even if it was, you still have a bookkeeper, right? Like the bookkeeper gets like all of the accounts. It doesn’t just focus on one.
It’s all of the accounts. And I think that’s the point is that we
need that kind of analysis, that kind of wide angle. So we’re calling it C I O, that stands for chief Information Officer. I didn’t even think to start with the definition, but some people may not know, which is totally fine. And I’m not talking about all the things and getting fancy with, I’m just talking about what do you need to do to coordinate technology?
Well, even on a small team.
Alexandra: And I think. While the title C I O, your chief information officer might scare some nonprofits away of like, oh, that doesn’t belong. I think it’s very deliberate that we’re talking about as you said, these information systems. So this isn’t a chief tech officer necessarily, right. You shouldn’t approach it as like, you know, as a someone in charge of.
Of running all of the it, it’s that the idea of we are trying to create systems that get information to the humans who need it. And there’s a certain tech element of that because like you said, you know, if you’ve got 30 to 50 different software systems and programs and everything, they’re collecting all of these different pieces of data, they need to be turned into useful information at the right time, in the right way, and delivered to the right people.
And that’s a system that doesn’t run itself. It needs somebody to manage it, and I love that. That’s what you point out, that somebody has to take on that role of being the coordinator of that true ecosystem.
Tim: It’s so fun to hear you talk about system with that too, because I, as any, anytime I hear the word system, you’re probably the same way. Whether we’re talking like,biological ecosystem, whether we’re talking like even Nash, equilibriums and economics around how you find a balanced point or whatever, you’re gonna get to this homeostasis point, right? And what I think is happening is that, Unidentified, and informal systems that don’t have any kind of guidance, guardrails, governance, whatever leadership, you’re going to hit a balance point that is what is most natural for the humans to hit. And when it comes to tech, that balance point is going to be reluctance and shame-based.
LikeI should do this, but I can’t. I don’t have time. I don’t know how to do this. And so I don’t, you know, I’m gonna go do something I do know how to do. Right. And what that does is that leans you towards digital maturity of reluctance or maybe even resistance.
my goal at the human stack is to get everybody over the comfort line into comfortable, engaged, or resilient.
Right? those are the tech avoidant maturity levels. and the very first thing about it is to stop feeling shame. And until you have a reset on that balance point, you’re gonna experience shame. the other thing that just. Is so important for us to now understand is post pandemic. Post pandemic. Our culture is now hosted by digital systems, and I’m not, what I mean by that is, you know, you and I are looking at each other now. People are listening to us [00:10:00] talk, but the fact that I can look at you. And see that you get my point. You’re nodding, you’re shaking your head like this is information that tells me you understand what I’m talking about. If you are the person who can’t get their camera to work, you know you’re cut out of the culture of your organization. Every time there’s a Zoom meeting, if you don’t understand how Slack works, you are missing out on. Like some important stuff, but even more importantly, all the cat stuff, right? All the cat photos and the random, whatever the random channel is on whatever slack thing you’ve got, that’s where all the fun is, right? And so what I’m getting at is that the base code of humans is not digital. Even in technology, the base code of humans is always belonging. How do we belong into a culture and without a C I O to set a balance point? don’t get to set how people connect and find belonging through the tools that’s hosting your digital culture. So I’m not equating digital culture and technical tools. What I’m saying is technical tools have become the vehicle that hosts our culture. Andif we have low accessibility on that, we are cutting people out of our culture and probably not even realizing it. does that make sense?
Alexandra: Oh, it resonates so strongly. And it’s interesting because actually, the episode that’ll come out right before this with Rebecca, we were talking about what it does it take to be a good data. Manager and she kept coming back to communication. She goes, it’s not number skills, it’s necessarily by itself, right?
It’s not the ability to use your software better. Those can be learned. Those are, you know, skills that are needed, but not critical. What’s critical is figuring out how to build a shared language. Across your organization so that everyone can understand what we mean when we talk about critical data that we’re using to measure metrics against our goals and our success.
And that’s exactly what you’re saying is that if we have people who are left out of the vehicle in which. Our culture is being communicated, is being transmitted, then they’re missing out on that connection, on that belonging, on being part of it. And I love that you brought up that concept of shame. We all feel it at different levels.
I was just talking to my son who’s learning to read. He’s six and he’s doing an amazing job, but he’ll hit words he doesn’t know he’ll look at me and I’ll help him sound it out. And I told him the other day that there are words, I don’t know. He just, his wise eyes got so wide and he went, there are words you don’t know.
I said all the time, I said, they might be bigger words than you’re dealing with right now, or words in different subjects or whatever. But we all have that point where we run into something we don’t know, and if we somehow have this should in our head that we’re supposed to know it all, then we’re afraid to ask for help.
But if we recognize there’s all, there’s that point for all of us, and we can all get to a point where we’re comfortable asking for help, we’re comfortable learning a new thing so that we can all sort of move forward together, leave that shame behind, and we come. That much closer together in, in that sense of belonging.
And I love that that’s one of the things that you focus on with technology, that it’s not, Hey, you have to learn how to use slack and you better be a techie. It’s no, let’s leave the shame behind and ask questions and find our way there together, which I love and I think it brings together that point of why you need a C I O, and I’ll put that in quotes.
You need that central coordinator, somebody who can stand up for that and say, this is something that matters to us and will do what it takes to get there.
Tim: I’m like, there’s nine things I wanna say about what you just offered there because it’s so great. The first one is props on your son. Like, it is so hard to learn
anything and I, I love that story and I’ll probably keep retelling it,
Tim: because you did something. That I think good at tech people they skip over and don’t understand. Instead of you telling your son, you’re gonna be like me someday, where you know all the words. Right? Which is the temptation. And I hope it’s not just because I’m a show off, although probably it is, but I feel like my temptation is always to show people I’m good at tech,
right? Like, you should follow me.
I’m good at tech. that isn’t the thing that works. It’s so interesting that’s not what lights people up, what lights people up [00:14:00] is when you’re like, no, I’m not. Like I dunno, I am not all the tech, right? Like, ah, this catches me off guard or I can’t do this. Like that is, that’s such important messaging because I feel like then people are, they’re drawn over. The line and they don’t hit this well, you’re just good at it. And,I just feel like that’s amazing. And one of the re realizations I had recently is that the highest level of digital maturity in my model is resilience. And resilience is a state of constant obsession plus discovery, plus curiosity, right?
It’s like for me, if I’m curious about something in tech, I’m up till three till I figure it out and there is no amount of Googles that I stop doing. I just Google. Somebody out there has thought of this, I just go find it. Right? That is resilient tech people, like that’s what they’re doing. The rung, like the level down from that is engagement. And I think engagement, engaged users are the most important users in the system. Not your resilient ones, but your engaged users. Because they aren’t show offs, they don’t have it all figured out. They are in the process of discovery, and that makes them so much more relatable to your reluctant users. And so, I used to think you want to, like, you wanna pile it into your resilient users.
No, they’re good. They’re just gonna go find it. Whatever. You don’t need to do anything with those guys. What you want to do is resource as much time and resource into your engaged users as possible, because gonna go and capture the hearts of those reluctant users and pull them into the comfort line, and it’s gonna be practical stuff, right? Whereas resilient people like me, we go find like the chat GPTs of the world that can do this weird like go make coffee stuff on, you know, on, on Alexa combined with Siri, what, you know, like just dumb stuff. Whereas an Engage user is gonna be like, look, I found this way to import this spreadsheet and then do this other thing so that now we can save five hours.
Like it’s practical, you know what I mean? So anyway, I love that. That’s, I love the way that you’re leading with vulnerability. And that, that creates belonging. and I just, I think that’s really intriguing. you also talked about, A C T O, so a Chief Technical Officer. So in most product companies you’ll have a C T O and they are the chief Technology Officer. And I don’t know why I have not thought of this before, but in my model you have two ax axis. One is the tech stack, you know, it’s going up and down. And the other one is the human stack, and that’s going. Side to side, right? I can’t suddenly, can’t remember horizontal versus vertical. I don’t even remember which those
Yeah. Thanks. Okay, great. There we go. All right. so tech stack is vertical and human stack is horizontal. The C T O is the chief, like the chief, the person that’s setting all the tone for the tech stack. And the CIO is the one that’s setting all the tone for the human stack. That’s net new on this call.
I’ve, I had not really put that together, but it makes so much sense
that that is what’s happening, that you need a c i o to be focused first on people more than the tech.
and yeah. Anyway,I think that’s a great analogy and good luck to your son, like I
Tim: the words,
Alexandra: I know well, and English is the worst language to willing to read, honestly, and bless the people who have to learn it as a second language
Tim: my gosh. Absolutely.
Alexandra: so I think that we’re honing in on some really interesting things about skills that, that chief information officer role needs.
and I love that you talk about that. It’s not the person who gets tech the best. It’s not the person who can do everything. It’s the person Who can lead without knowing everything, who can demonstrate how you figure things out. And I love that resilience again, isn’t knowing how to handle everything.
It’s knowing how to figure out how to handle anything. and so I think that this again, opens that door to those organizations that are listening, being like, there’s no one here who could possibly do that. None of us have all of that figured out that you can say no, the CIO just needs to be willing. To figure it out and you can lead with an example of showing how we figure those things out, how we bring those engaged users [00:18:00] up.
And I love that you talked about resourcing those engaged users. What other skills would you say the person who’s going to, you know, step into that c I O role would need? Because they’re probably not gonna go out and hire a pre-made c i o, you know, for $300,000. So what skills could they find within their own team that would really set someone up for success to step into that role?
Tim: Yeah, let’s talk about the preconditions for success on that first.
Alexandra: I think that’s great.
Tim: And what I found in my work in working this out with a methodology is that organizations can pretty much. this kind of transition with almost any level of basic professional proficiency, right? What does not work? What I cannot find a way to make work is organizations that do not have a culture of authenticity and transparency. If you don’t have that, You can’t get at least my methodology to work for you and until you work on that part of your culture, like good luck with digital transformation. What’ll happen is that people are going to be in cover their ass mode all the time, and they’re going to say they’re going to, I don’t wanna say the word lie, because I feel like it’s more like they’re going to survive. And when you’re in survival mode, you say the words that you’ve gotta say, and I feel like that lands on leadership, not staff, people who are just like having to say the words to keep them in the meeting and stay employed. Right? so first of all, if you’re struggling with a culture that does not have authenticity and transparency, I’d love to talk with you about what that looks like.
But that’s gonna have to be kind of your base thing. here’s what I love about small nonprofits, which is kind of where I’m starting. organizations with five to 15 staff, if you’re not authentic and transparent, people are like leaving you already. Right? Like that’s the thing. And so those organizations, Most small nonprofits have authenticity and transparency in spades.
In fact, it’s their greatest resource. It’s the reason that they can move forward together. They stay inspired. They are, they act as a unit. They know how to pivot quickly, and I think that makes them the most likely group to do this digital transformation work quickly. which was not how I was thinking even six months ago.
it’s such an e exciting thought. Maybe small nonprofits are actually the goldmine of digital transformation instead of the last mile for it, which
would just be great if they could be first out of the gate on something good. I would just be so happy about that. So that’s the first thing to say on it.
when it comes to the actual skills, I do think basic business proficiency. is really important, I would say. curiosity goes a long way. curiosity and confidence, right? So again, like these are not, like, what I’m not saying here is you know how to use the lookup on spreadsheets. I’m not saying you already understand the inner workings of a relational database, one-to-one. You know, relationships, many to many joins. I’m not saying that because it’s not important. It really is not important. And this is why I created my course Digital Driver’s Ed for Small Teams, which is focused on small nonprofits with five to 15 staff because I don’t need that. and in fact somebody’s like an, almost every organization I’ve ever talked to, if I say, who’s the tech person around here, all eyes go to the person.
Everybody looks at them instinctively. Right? And they got voluntold to do this probably cuz they had the most time. The least amount of other responsibilities, and maybe they were on TikTok, right? Like it’s a bar that is a reasonable and understandable bar and it’s still there. So, and then weirdly enough, the whole trick on all of this digital transformation and turning things around for technology, the big trick is to make time work for you. There’s no way to do this fast. No matter what, you got a million dollars and you’re gonna throw it all into digital transformation. It is gonna go probably about as slowly [00:22:00] as if you are a small nonprofit. because tech can change in weeks or months, but humans change in quarters and years, and there’s no way to speed that up. So understand that the goal here is to make early changes quickly that create net long-term outcomes. And that’s essentially what I did in my course. I said, there are four skills you can learn in four to six months. And then after that, it’s kind of like, I can’t reconciliation by, you know, bookkeepers, you have to do it every month, but it’s not even, you don’t even think about it anymore.
It’s just part of the job. Right. And because of that, your books stay up to date, they get a little better month over month. Right? there’s a whole bunch of benefits that happen that you’re not yielding until you start doing that. And it scares all of us when we hear that bookkeepers aren’t doing it.
Like it’s the thing you gotta do. It’s the biggest, like data collection or correction and accuracy maneuver in the entire world is bank reconciliation. So, so yeah, there are four skills and I’ll just, I’ll say them really quickly. You have to learn how to assess your current state. That’s kind of a one-time thing. After that, you’ve got that skill. You can do it for other organizations, but you kind of know where you’re at after that. Second thing is an ongoing one, maintaining your data. And the trick on that is not knowing how to fix your data. Everybody knows how to fix data. It’s just such a huge task.
Nobody knows where to start. So what I do is I create a conveyor belt that he helps you eat that whale, right? Just a little bit every month. and you give that time. And then the third thing is managing requests. And the subtext on this is you gotta get everybody to complain, right?
Complaining is a sign of hope. You gotta get people to stop whining. But if you’ve got 40 systems, you need to know who’s getting stuck on which part of the system. And in small teams with authenticity and transparency, everybody feels bad for the person that’s doing the tech and they don’t want to complain. It actually makes their job a lot harder. People don’t realize that. So what we do is teach people, we don’t solve all of their issues. What we teach is here are the five buckets that you put things in any request and then you know, here’s what you do with the five buckets. And then the last one is, here’s how you drive digital culture [00:24:00] over time.
So we get that so that it’s taking one to three hours per week and yeah, it’s gonna take about that much time. I mean that’s a huge r o I though. You know, you’re saying numbers that are in the six, six figures to hire someone to do this. And I’m talking about here’s how you create a person that’s doing this with existing tech with an existing team in about six months. And I just, I wanna pay attention to how low that bar could be.
Not in a bad way, but in a good way. This is very, very achievable
if you know the right steps. And
it’s taken me 15 years to learn what are those steps. And I
started as a digital voluntold, so I know what I’m talking about there. And, and I’ve seen it work.
It’s really powerful.
Alexandra: And I think. I really am hoping that people are hearing this, that this is an achievable role for people already existing in your organization to willingly take on, not just be voluntold for it, but to willingly take that on because as you said, you need that openness and humility. You need the ability to be curious and confident, right?
We’re gonna try this. It may not work, but I know we’re gonna try it and if it doesn’t work, we’ll figure out something else and then fold those skills into the, that those four steps, which I love. Right? Where are you now? You can’t go anywhere until you know where you are figuring out how to maintain your data, cuz that is the engine that’s gonna drive you forward.
I love your manage requests because I agree that just like the maintaining data, As you sort of open that Pandora’s box, right, of, okay, tell me the things that aren’t working. You’re gonna get hundreds of things and you need a way of parsing through that and prioritizing them, saying, look, we can’t fix all of these.
Now what are the ones like we need to, it’s the house maintenance, right? we’ve got an old house, we need to make it watertight first, and we’ll get to interior decorating in a year. But I heard you, I heard that the plaid wallpaper just isn’t cutting it. We just can’t get there yet. and that idea of then driving that culture over time, I think is such an important way to have at the end because this isn’t a one and done right.
It’s something that continues, like you wouldn’t expect your account to show up, do your books once and never touch it again. And so you need to be able to come back on that. So knowing that, and again, hopefully that we’re seeing that bar come down. we recognize that this is something we can do, but where do you find the most common pitfalls or barriers are?
So if a nonprofit’s like, okay, I think we can do this, where the places that they sometimes get stuck or they’ll trip up, they won’t see that pothole coming.
Tim: Yeah, I would love for you to be a spokesperson cause you just nailed all of that so well. Oh my gosh. Like, absolutely. You’ve got it. That is so spot on. So thank you for that. and I wanna just highlight something that you said about gathering requests. One of the most important things is the intention of not doing something like, thank you for that request. I’ve got it written down and we cannot work on it right now. And maybe not ever that’s still respectful. Right? What’s not respectful? Is like we’ve got this on a list and we’re like, if you know, you can’t do it, like, you know, I think that, I think it’s helpful to just say some of this can’t get done until we are a larger organization, et cetera. and I think that the overall biggest picture on that to not lose hold of is humans measure on the trend.
Alexandra: an organization feels like it’s starting to work on something, it changes the feel of that thing. So even if you haven’t turned the dial yet on your tech, just by addressing it and having a plan and appointing someone and saying, this is what we’re doing, it already makes a difference before it makes a difference.
Tim: And that’s really powerful because again, what we’re trying to do is make time work for us.
All we’re trying to do is make the data a little bit better at it and the system a little bit better over time. Okay. Barriers? Great question. I created a free online quiz. You can find it at the human stack slash quiz and or human stack.com/quiz.
I always forget the.com. And what happened is I took all of this experience I had doing, working with hundreds of. Nonprofits and thousands of nonprofit leaders, and I just looked at what are the questions that keep coming up? What are the important things? And I boiled it down. This is embarrassing because I’m an econometrics person, and so like I studied how many variables you need in a data set before you’ve got statistical significance. But I also know humans, and what I really thought is I need something that takes less than three minutes. For people to fill out. So it’s six questions. It is just six questions. They’re ridiculously simple to answer and they give me a lot of information around where an organization’s at. So A and they are, the six barriers,
So there are three technical, three human,
the three technical are solution fit, data quality, and utilization, and. The human ones are system sustainability, digital strategy, and accountability. And what’s so important about that is that the biggest barrier of all of this is the words. The tech doesn’t work or it doesn’t work. And what happens in that statement is that we absolve the humans of any accountability. And I wanna be really clear right now. Accountability is why authenticity and transparency is so important. This work requires us to actually own the fact that, yeah, the system doesn’t work because I haven’t logged in three months. Right? Like that’s not, the system not working. That’s not, that’s you not logging in. Of course it doesn’t work, right? This is why it’s so important to use the word system cuz humans are part of this. So we can have human failure points and that’s fine. And if you can just reset everything and you could just say, look, I don’t care.
there’s no witch hunt here. We are not trying to find anybody doing wrong, but what we are trying to do is assess is it really a technical issue or is it a human issue? Right? That would save people from doing the action I see over and over, which is every 18 months they get a new crm. They spend six figures installing it in 18 months. And they, you know, 18 months later are back to the same spot where it doesn’t work. Only they are now six figures less. They have six figures less budget, which was a lot for organizations, and 18 months later,
if they had converted that six figures into systems, building capacity, whatever, they’d be in a completely
different spot. And if they had taken that 18 months,
And they’d started working on digital maturity. Even if they were switching, if they’d focused on digital maturity at first, they would be in a different spot, even if they did switch technology. So the biggest barrier is the instincts to acquire technology,
Alexandra: and there is almost no situation in which the first thing you should do is acquire new tech, So solution fit is the new tech one, and there are five other areas to work on. And all of them will improve solution fit without changing your tech.
And if you do need to change your tech, which does happen, especially when you move from spreadsheets to a crm, that’s a big jump and it needs to happen at some point. Totally get it. You still want to start with digital strategy and some other things first and the whole, the way that we do digital driver’s ed, without ever using any of those words. Drives all of those human stack pieces First, it drives the data quality before solution fit it introduces accountability without ever naming it or getting litigious about it. And it focuses on positive reward-based accountability, which means, you know, accountability is power plus attention, right? So what we wanna do is we want to create, we want to create a tension that has power behind it. Attention on behavior that is the right kind of behavior so that people repeat it rather than trying to create, policing kind of accountability where you’re trying to get people to avoid behavior. So that, It really is. So please take the quiz. That’s a really good place to start, and you kind of see where you’re at. If you’ve got a lot of ones, you know, it’s like one outta 10 on some things like. Okay, that’s a good indicator that there might be some issues there. And then there’s some hidden gotchas in there.
Tim: If your digital strategy and your sustainability are widely apart, that probably means that you have a, either a tactical leader that is making strategic decisions or inverse. You’ve got a strategic leader that’s in all of the tactical meetings. You know, like I would be changing my mind every two weeks about what the strategy is, right?
It’s a terrible idea. So I think that there’s some gotchas in there, but it at least starts to give six areas of focus besides just we need to change the tech.
Alexandra: I am so fascinated and it’s making me realize why so many organizations failed. in attempting to make the best use of their data because it’s there, there are the two challenges, right? Making sure that the people and the culture and the way that you do things and how we approach things as humans works.
There’s making sure the tech is actually functional, right? Cuz sometimes there are broken systems that just don’t do what they’re supposed to do. So you do have to have the tech, and I’m gonna say quote unquote, right, but even if both of them were functional, if they don’t work together, it’s still not functional.
And I was thinking about the analogy that you gave of why you call it digital driver’s ed, that. I might be great at getting myself around on a bicycle. Right? And that’s how I’ve done it always. I know how to get myself around. I’m good at it. And then I might have this amazing, you know, Toyota car, and it works really well.
It’s very reliable. It never breaks down. But if I get in and I try to drive the Toyota, like I ride my bicycle, it’s not
Tim: a Flintstones moment right here. You’re like, your feet are on the ground like Fred Flintstone. That’s just
Alexandra: Right. Yeah. Right. And I’m pushing my feet up and down and I’m alternating from the brake to the gas, and we’re just like lurching all over the place. Right? Like, it would quote unquote not work. And I could say, well, this car sucks and doesn’t work. Get me a new one. Right. And I’m gonna have the same problem all over again.
Or like you said, we hit that balance and we just go back to the bike. And so we have this perfectly new car that we just bought, and it’s sitting in the garage because I can’t get it to go and I’m gonna just ride my bike to school. And I love that idea of like, that’s often where the breakdown happens is those things meeting together in a way where they’re synergistic rather than antagonistic.
Tim: I just put a carousel out on LinkedIn this morning that I think is very, very funny. That is why Seven Reasons Why fundraisers Cheat on their C R M with spreadsheets. Right. and number six is my favorite in there if you go and read it, I think that one is like, I had so much fun writing it just in general, but my point on that is bikes are spreadsheets and cars are CRMs and you are so right. That they drive completely differently. And here’s why I call it digital driver’s ed, which I think I forgot to say, I was trying to explain this work that I do to my mom. And I used to do just Salesforce implementation consulting, which was fun, super challenging, you know, amazing work. and then I saw a stat that said 90% of organizations collect data, but only 5% use that data to make decisions.
And it. Just like ruined that. Like I couldn’t just do that anymore because I felt like I wasn’t integrally helping our industry. So I redid all of that and I was trying to explain it to my mom and I said, mom, imagine that Salesforce is like a car manufacturer. And my old business was like a car dealership and people come and order their C r M car and we get it ready for them.
It takes a while, and we get it in and we give them the keys and then they wreck it driving off the lot. Or they just don’t drive it. Or more likely they say the windshield wipers don’t work because they’re afraid to get in and actually drive it. Since they know that they don’t know how and we don’t have any language to support that.
Anyway, all of that is problematic and the real issue is that they went to a dealership instead of going to where, you know, to driver’s ed. And what we need right now is not more card dealerships. We are very good at acquiring technology. What the play that we don’t have is how you learn to drive it and invest in driving it.
It’s gonna take time and money and that’s fine. It’s actually the best investment, but it’s really challenging because that’s not part of budgets right now. And the, and then I was talking to my dad who learned to drive it six years old, and my grandpa was like, there’s a steering wheel and a gas pedal and don’t let it go over this number.
Little five right there, cuz my dad was only [00:36:00] six. and my grandpa was like, there’s the cows. Go get the cows to the barn and when we’re done milking, take ’em back, you know, to the pasture. And I, that blew my mind, first of all. Cause I’m like six years old. Like, what? But then it also caught me off guard because I realized my dad didn’t learn any parallel parking, no four-way stops, none of that kind of stuff.
Right? None of the city driving stuff. CIOs as they’re traditionally trained. all city driving. And that’s the barrier right now is that when we look at what CIOs do today, we see all the city driving that doesn’t apply to small nonprofits on ranches with cows, right? And so I created digital driver’s ed for small teams specifically as the ranch version. I pulled all of the city driving out of the course and I just created it in a really small way so that it can work. For small teams without city driving, in, in it. and I feel like that is really important to understand that this is the functional, there’s the most functional best expenditure, lowest bar, highest yield. I could possibly produce so that organizations can actually start to see some of these changes. And my goal is to see over a thousand functional CIOs in nonprofits that I just, I think you would change so much if we started to see this happen.
Alexandra: And I am fully behind that goal. So we’ll see if we can get there. Now, I could talk to you for like, 20 hours. So in respect for our guests and our listeners, we’ll have to wrap it up, but I’d love to end with what’s an action that people could take right now, as you said, to like bend that trend upward.
Just get that little bit of forward momentum. They could do it right now.
Tim: If you are that digital, all untold go schedule, a half hour with somebody that’s on your team. And just observe how they work and write down places that you feel like you could help them. That’d be to the digital voluntold. Just start with some observation. and in that time, reduce shame in every way possible.
Just be like, oh yeah, everybody does this. no big deal. Right? if you’re not that digital voluntold in an organization, then drop the shame that you have in yourself. Of not using the tech perfectly. Like we’re such a values driven industry that we have these ideals about perfectionism in all sorts of areas in our life, and if we’re not doing something right, then we’re failures.
Right? That is not the case. This using tech is not a moral issue. Sure. We could be more efficient and we could create more impact. That’s not the point though. The point is, you’re a busy person that’s trying to do the best you can and your shame is gonna get in the way of you actually. Being better at technology so it’s not functional, it’s not helpful.
Just drop it, it’s okay.
Alexandra: I love that. And then you can start complaining effectively.
Tim: complain. Yeah, complain. Complain away. Yeah, absolutely.
Alexandra: I love it. Well, thank you so much for your time today. If people would like to connect with you, follow you, learn more about digital driver’s ed, where can they go?
Tim: On our website, you can find both the quiz, you can find digital driver’s. Ed. You can find me. On LinkedIn, I’m there a lot and I love connecting with people. So let me know that you, that you heard me and that Alexandra, you’re such a great host. Thank you for having me. I love what you’re talking about and how you’re talking about it.
so it’s really fun to be, on your podcast today.
Alexandra: Oh, well thank you so much for joining. It is such a wonderful conversation. I can’t wait to share this one. Thank you so much for your time.
Tim Lockie is the CEO and Founder of The Human Stack, and co-host of the Why IT Matters podcast. Tim has over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and tech world, with roles including volunteer, youth worker, camp counselor, music instructor, foster parent, board member, finance director, bookkeeper, recruiter, and community administrator among others. He’s passionate about Digital Transformation and believes it’s something that all nonprofits can benefit from, no matter their size. Connect with Tim at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tlockie/