Welcome to episode 34 of the Technology in Human Services podcast. In this episode I speak with Tim Lockie.
Tim describes himself as an accidental techie. Like many accidential techies, while he entered the nonprofit and human service sector to help make the world a better place, he found he had some natural tech skills. But, perhaps more importantly, he realized pretty quickly that too often technology is used and implemented for technology’s sake, without truly factoring people into the mix.
As you’ll hear him outline in his introduction and as a thread throughout all of his current work, he found that we need a better way to introduce people to technology. Tim has developed a new way to do that with nonprofits and that’s what we talk about in this conversation, along with a healthy dose of how and why you should become better at making decisions with your own data. I think you’ll find it useful and interesting.
Some useful resources:
- The Human Stack – Traditional technology methodologies have one thing in common, they forget about human behavior. The Human Stack℠ mindset is the human part of tech. The tech stack has taken the front stage for a long time, it’s about time we gave humans their own stack.
- Now IT Matters – Tim’s social impact tech consultancy
- Why IT Matters – Tim’s own podcast, a series of conversations hosted by Tracy Kronzak and Tim Lockie of Now IT Matters, about change, especially as experienced by nonprofits, technology experts, and the worlds that are served by the impact economy.
What follows is an AI-generated transcript of our conversation using Otter.ai. The transcript has not been edited. It may contain errors and odd sentence breaks and is not a substitute for listening to the audio.
Marco Campana 0:00
Welcome to Episode 34 of the technology and human services podcast. In this episode, I speak with Tim Locky, Tim describes himself as an accidental techie. Like many accidental techies while he entered the nonprofit and human service sector to help make the world a better place. He found he had some natural tech skills as well. Perhaps more importantly, he realized pretty quickly that too often technology is used and implemented for technology’s sake, without truly factoring people into the mix. As you’ll hear him outlined in his introduction, and as a thread throughout all of his current work, he found that we need a better way to introduce people to technology, Tim has developed a new way to do that with nonprofits. And that’s what we talked about in this conversation, along with a healthy dose of how and why you should become better at making decisions with your own data. I think you’ll find it useful and interesting. Welcome, Tim, to the technology and human services podcast. I really appreciate you joining us today, I’m gonna let you do your own introduction. So if you could maybe tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you’re working on.
Tim Lockie 1:00
Yeah, thanks. It’s so great to be here. As I’m a big admirer. I love the work that you’re doing. I like the way you show up on LinkedIn, and have poignant things to say you say it and you really collect a lot of ideas. So it’s really it’s really a pleasure to be here. My name is Tim Lockie. I’m the founder of the human stack. The human stack is a new project of mine and new brand. And basically we’re I’m looking to create accessible digital transformation for nonprofits of all sizes. That is self guided.
Marco Campana 1:35
Awesome. So how did you come to this work? What’s your background? Like? Are you one of those techies? Or do you come at it from a different perspective?
Tim Lockie 1:41
I am, I am a an accidental techie, I guess. But, but technology technology’s really been natural for me. So I’ve been working in nonprofits since I was 18. And so this has been kind of my lifelong passion to see the world be a better place. It really is what drives me. Somebody asked me the other day how I got into this work. And I realized it’s been a while since I thought about this. But I met a homeless guy when I was like 16 years old, which really changed my view of homeless people. And it took it from being, you know, homeless homeless problem to homeless people. And I realized, this guy Joseph was, I don’t know, he he befriended me. We talked, I was on this one event for a while and and he like, before that event ended, he gave me a fake Rolex watch, which I proudly wore to prom that year. And so yeah, it’s just so that that’s, that’s where I got my start. And just seeing like, we can think about, about poverty differently. We can think about people as people, not poverty. And so that’s kind of where I got my start, in this work in general, and then I studied economics was looking for my first job, ended up working for a nonprofit that was global, and did it put teams around the world. And what I found is, I wanted to be speaker, writer, you know, influencer. And that wasn’t happening, what was happening is that I was really good at fixing people’s computers. And like just solving the digital issues that were coming up. And so more and more of that kept happening until finally I was I just started now at matters, which was a company that implemented Salesforce for nonprofits. And I did that until 2019. And in 2019, I saw slide at a Salesforce Partner Summit said 90% of nonprofits collect data, but less than 40% use that data to make decisions. And I was like, this is this is my like, that’s the thing I do. And we have such a high failure a and I couldn’t honestly say, my, my customers, all of them were, you know, part of that less than 40% that were making decisions based on the data. And so for the last few years, I’ve been saying, Why, why? Why is this a problem? What can we do about it? And I really think it boils down to, we just do not implement for people we implement for a tech stack. And I and that’s why I call it the human stack, we need to start thinking about a methodology to introduce people to technology.
Marco Campana 4:28
That’s, that’s the that’s really what’s attractive. I mean, you and I connected only fairly recently. So I’ve seen you, since the human stack kind of as evolved as a as an idea for you. And that’s what really captured my attention. Because I mean, in our I’m in the immigrant and refugee serving sector in Canada, and that’s a conversation we’ve kind of been having off and on for years, but we’ve not really come around to it in a true truly meaningful way until the pandemic when all of a sudden had everybody had to be digital. And then we started to see some of these challenges. So So you’ve written what you’re just talking about that we in nonprofits, we had to At what we see as technology problems with technology solutions, and we forget the human solution part of it. So we’re and in fact, sometimes we were trying to solve a human problem with a technology solution, oh, we just need a CRM, oh, we just need to be on social media or we just need, you know, some device lending libraries, things like that. And, and so you’ve evolved and developed this thing called the human stack. So one of the things that I realized when I saw that was okay, I get it, he’s talking about it, as opposed to the tech stack. But I think a lot of people, and I include myself in this as even being a kind of an accidental techie is what is the tech stack itself? And how is it that you’re building on top of that, or in parallel to it? So I think, I think the first question is kind of like, how does that relate to what we call the tech stack? And what even is the tech stack? And how does the human stock kind of move that forward in a more meaningful way?
Tim Lockie 5:52
That’s a great question. I’m, before I answer that, though, would, could you tell me, what does that look like for you, when you’re working in Refugee and Immigrant Services? What what does that work look like? As you’re having these conversations? Like, what are the what are the points of frustration and friction?
Marco Campana 6:10
Oh, sure. I mean, so So I’ll say the first point is that my focus on tech is about tech in service delivery. So not fundraising, not donor management, not some, you know, not not marketing and things like that. It’s so figuring out what technology makes sense to use with clients. And the first challenge is, is exactly what you’re kind of building towards is people focus on Oh, I think I should be on WhatsApp. But they haven’t even asked their clients what their preferences are, right? Oh, I hear that, you know, all the Indians and the Syrians and the Brazilians, and you name it are using WhatsApp, so I need to be on WhatsApp. And it’s the same kind of conversation that we had, let’s say five, maybe even seven years ago, oh, I need to be on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. And it’s like, what are your clients? Right? And so we keep coming back to the same? So part of it the frustration is they haven’t even talked to their clients. You know, I tell people, you know, add two questions to your intake forms. What technologies do you use? Yeah. But then the more important question, what will how would you prefer to communicate with us? Right? So they might use Facebook, WeChat, Viber, Telegram on a smartphone, but they also have a laptop or a Chromebook. But then when you ask the next question, how do you want to communicate with us? Oh, I’d like you to text message me, instead of emailing or WhatsApp, or Facebook, because I use those for my personal lives, or I use those for other purposes. And so people make the it’s kind of like that data assumption, right? Oh, I’ve got some data. I could give you stats on people from certain countries. So it’s a great site. I don’t know if you’re familiar with a call the data report that no, oh, it’s amazing.
Marco Campana 7:47
I love it. Yeah, no, I know, it’s, Hootsuite is part of it. And happy iOS. And we are social. And, of course, I can’t remember the main, the main consultant, but he’s amazing. And what they do is they they gather stats from what I call in our sector, countries of origin, right? So every year, and almost every quarter, they publish that on device, internet, social media, and marketing, and, and, and just media habits. So I can tell you, if you’re serving people from the Philippines, what they likely used before they came to Canada, and that’s helpful, right? Because it’s going to be very different than someone from China, who uses different technology. But that only gets you halfway there. So I can tell you that Facebook is very, very important. They use Facebook Messenger, they spend a lot of time with, with doing research about before they make a purchase, which suggests they might do a lot of research before they access your services. But you don’t know that final quote, that’s that that gets you you know, part of the way but the rest of the ways to talk to them now that they’re in Canada, right? Yep. What has their media habits changed? How do they want to communicate with you? Did they use those technologies to stay in touch with family in their country of origin? Or are they also looking to receive services through those technologies? So we can only we can get a quite a distance to realize, oh, I should ask these questions. But then we don’t go the last mile as they say, Yeah, I suppose. So that’s a big frustration is just trying to really kind of what I think is low hanging fruit, ask the people what they want, and how they want to be communicated to the other thing is, is just around incomes. And this is not a specific to our sector, there’s a lot of good research that’s come out about funders don’t understand technology is not just an operational tool. It’s a service delivery project tool. So they’ll fund your hardware, they’ll fund your bandwidth, but they don’t realize that maybe everyone needs a smartphone as well. And not only a smartphone, I’ve seen funders who have funded smartphones, for workers who work outside of the office, but they don’t fund data plans. They expect them to connect, oh my gosh, which A is inconsistent, and B is insecure. So you’ve also got funder literacy around this stuff, which is a huge issue, right? And then you get inconsistent applications of the technologies in organizations. And then there’s also just, you know, leadership there. They didn’t come into this. Okay, first of all frontline workers didn’t come into this work to want to use technology. They come from backgrounds. Absolutely. And managers don’t know how to manage technology. So the easiest answer when someone says, I need a Twitter account or I need a smartphone, it’s just saying no, because you’re safe if you say no, right. And so there’s a whole other digital literacy skills, that we don’t have baselines in our sector, right. So so what happens is or what happened pre pandemic is frontline workers just did it on the side, they use personal phones, they texted their clients, they WhatsApp their clients, they were on Facebook, with their clients, all using personal devices and personal accounts. And then you’ve got monstrous issues around ethics and boundaries, and all of those kinds of things. And again, we learned a lot during the pandemic people, the funders, were suddenly realizing we need to be flexible. You probably want to serve clients on WhatsApp, because they’re totally remote. So let’s get you some smartphones and data plans. Because you’re at home and all those kinds of things. My concern is that we are starting to already forget the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic, right, we’re going back to old ways of doing things, except the frontline workers don’t want to, they’re among those cohorts of people who are like, I don’t really want to commute back into the office, I can do this from home, I had a more flexible schedule. In fact, my flexible schedule allowed me to sometimes serve clients on the evenings and weekends, which is when they want to get services. And then I could spend time with my family during the day, pick up drop off my kids. So we’ve also got this hype, this there’s this whole hybrid service delivery thing like we know moving forward, that you’re going to do some service with people online as well as in person. And I like to remind people because I’ve been talking about this for 15 years, you already did that before the pandemic, so it’s not new. In fact, we’re just naming it now. And then there’s also the hybrid work where it’s like, you can work from anywhere. You can work from home, and it works. And you know, how are we going to manage that? So there’s a lot of different kinds of pain points that come up all the time. The other one, the only final one? Because this is me interviewing you, man, stop getting no, no,
Tim Lockie 11:55
no, keep going. Amazing.
Marco Campana 11:58
The other one is knowledge mobilization and share. Yeah, right know how it is in other sectors, but our sector is very closed, which is why I like to share everything I learned because it might help somebody. And there’s two points that we don’t have a culture of sharing. But we also don’t have the time and resources. So once you develop the culture, that’s great people want to share, but how do they share properly? How do they share in a way that will be useful for someone else? And the flipside is, once someone shares something, how do I simulate that into my practice, I don’t have time, it’s something people do on the side of their desk, they don’t have, you know, the Google time of 20% of their day of their right, where they can just experiment and learn and play and things like that. So. So it’s a really double edged sword where we don’t have the culture. But even if we get the culture, we don’t have the time and the practice and the resources kind of thing. So what happens in Vancouver might be incredible learning for someone in Halifax, but they may never even hear about it. And so they build something that is essentially a replication of the other one. But if they put their two heads together, instead, they might come up with a better solution in general. And then if they shared that someone and none of it, and someone in London, Ontario might say, Hey, I’m working on that, too. Maybe we should like have a zoom call. Because before Whoa, how are we going to talk now everyone understands, you can have a web chat kind of thing. So there’s no barriers to Tech is a barrier anymore. Yep. And maybe it’s a segue back to what you’re doing the the barrier isn’t tech as the tech can do everything. The barrier is how we use it and how we implement it and how we understand how to put a human face to it. So now I’m coming back to you, man. Stark.
Tim Lockie 13:28
Amazing. No, that is so like, that’s, that makes me it makes me like believe in my work all over again, whichever I could just for hours. It’s great. I mean, I’ve got to say funder funder literacy. I haven’t heard that before. Oh, man, I love that idea. And then the idea that no escapes, like no is safer. Just saying no. As a leader, if you don’t have the background on what you’re doing in technology, it’s safer to say no, you just get all of the all the risk out of the way. And and then you don’t have to pay for it either. Like there’s so many hidden benefits to saying no to technology. who’s also been absolutely, absolutely. It’s like It’s like parenting knows the magic. The magic word. No, I don’t ever think about it now. So yeah, no, that’s a that’s, that’s great. So you just like, that’s why I do this. Like, that is why I do this because I see it over and over. And I’m so glad I love fundraisers. I love fundraising, and I love marketing and I didn’t use to, like that’s new territory for me. People like Mallory Erickson Tim sir Antonio, you know, like, I’m like seeing that with new eyes. My heart has always been in, you know, frontline services. Like that’s where I started. That’s what I care about. You know, I’ve had homeless people live in my home before. I’ve, you know, conducted services for homeless friends that have died on the streets like that. That’s what that’s why I do this. So I just love your answer to that. It’s so great. So yeah, all of that. I don’t remember your question on your back. Don’t worry. Okay. Yeah, totally. So let’s talk about the human stack.
Marco Campana 15:27
When I saw what you’re working on, it completely resonated with me, for all the reasons we just I just ranted about for example. And so when people see that, though, I’m concerned because you know, technology literacy, they’re like, what’s a stack? So you’re building it? It’s a play on the tech stack? So what is the tech stack? And how does the human stack build that out in a more meaningful way? Yeah, okay,
Tim Lockie 15:50
great, thank you. So, whenever an architect and technology starts to work on, you know, a piece of technology, they have to build, just like a building contractor, or architect has to build from the ground up because of gravity, you know, this, this all, you know, from the foundation all the way to the roof, you have to build every layer, every story, and also fit together, the tech stack is similar, and that you are building from the base code, all the way up to user experience. So from the zeros and ones that nobody even thinks about, you know, forgets, they’re even there, all the way to the the clicks that you take with your mouse as the end user, every single bit of all of the applications, all of the data storage in there, all of the service applications, all of that architecture has to be carefully thought through. And they call those layers of architecture, the stack. So a tech stack is just the carefully architected construction of all of the code that you need in order to use technology. So that’s called the tech stack. And you’re right, I am making a play off of that for the human stack. And it’s, it’s not just a play, to me, the the human stack is just as real. And you’re naming some of the reasons for it. From the very bottom of how, you know, at the base layers, like what’s going on with an IT team that knows their, their, you know, our, the architecture of what’s going on with your organization. You know, that’s, that’s one layer, and then you have, you know, staff, and you’ve got directors, and you’ve got executives, and you have to at each layer, kind of know, what are we doing in technology? And it’s because when I started to backtrack, you know, on, why aren’t we making more decisions, with the data that we’re collecting? What I found is that there’s a, there is a conversion process where data becomes information. So data is just the stuff you type into your system. And you know, and then that, that just goes into a spreadsheet or a table or whatever, that’s data, a data point is just like, seven, you know, in a cell on a spreadsheet, that’s data. It’s actually datum because it’s plur. I always forget this, but data’s plural. Um, you know, so yeah, they are data, you know, real geeks talk like that. And anyway, I’m not, I’m not there. But okay, so that’s data. Information is when you know that seven is actually marked seven, which is my birthdate, right? So information is data with meaning and context. And that information needs to convert to insight. And insights are things like, you know, how are we doing on this quarter, you know, on fundraising, you know, where’s our cash projections? In service delivery, what it could be like, what is our intake plan and how we’re staffing that all of that is insights? Right now, most most executives make decisions based on instinct, right? And they’re really, really good at instinct. What we what we want to see is more of that, more of the Insight coming from the data. And that happens when you have a carefully architected human and tech stack combined. And you need both of those together. And so that that’s what’s really, really important is to just see how the tech stack you know, that needs to be working. And then the human stack also needs to be working as well. The easiest way maybe the best way I’ve found to say this is if you think of or if you think of software like car manufacturers, like Salesforce or Microsoft would be you know, car manufacturer, and then my old company would be like a dealership, people would come and order their cars and, and then we saw nonprofit after nonprofit wrecked their car. As on the way off the lot, because the issue is they don’t know how to drive. And so really, if you think about the two stacks, the tech stack is a better car. And the human stack is a better driver. And what we’re trying to do in digital transformation, is get better at using better cars, or like trying to, like increase both of those to two areas. And of the two, like, the whole industry is flying in an airplane with only one wing, which is the tech stack, because the human stack just does not get the same love and attention. Humans really don’t. They are not factored into technology or into systems. And information systems are half technology and half human. And I think that we just, we don’t conceive of them that way. And so we don’t give enough balance to the human side of it.
Marco Campana 20:51
So when you look at the human stack, and as you mentioned, like foundational from frontline, all the way up to leadership, have you been identifying what those skills? What is? How do you build a better driver? How do you build a better tech frontline worker? How do you build a better, you know, leader driver, basically, to drive those credible get to the cars themselves? And how I assume you’re not you’re not talking about stacks in isolation, you’re talking about, go back and forth. But but but the what I get a lot from folks is what are what are what skills do I need? What do I need is not just skills, I mean, like skills, insights and knowledge, assumptions, behaviors, I assume that’s all part of the human stack?
Tim Lockie 21:29
Yeah. And I think that when it comes to technology, you’re exactly right. Yeah, we I have thought about what are the different roles, you know, at different levels on that. But the thing that I will say that is universal is that emotions play a much stronger role in systems than we realize. And so one of my first learnings was, you know, it’s like your real driving, if you hit another car, there’s a lot of shame involved in that. I know this, because I’ve done that a few times. And it’s nice, there’s a high degree of shame. And, yeah, and fear, you know, from my parents when I was younger. So I think that there, I think that we need to recognize that we think of systems as all being zeros and ones and logic driven. And true false. And the tech stack is literally just zeros and ones in massive nested IF statements that, that resolve to a true false. And so the tech stack is driven by accuracy. But the human stack humans are all driven by an in out kind of binary, are we in the group or not in the group. And so the sense of belonging is the fundamental layer of what you build on in the human stack. And I think that that’s the the starting place is to recognize people are really intimidated by this, they’re afraid of it, they’re frustrated, they’re scared, it’s going to be expensive, they’re scared that, you know, when they say the system doesn’t work, someone’s gonna say, when was the last time you logged in? And they’re gonna have to fess up that they forgot their password four months ago, right? Like, these kinds of, like, there’s just this this way of thinking about it. That is all like logic, but really, it’s not. We have fear we have, we just have strong emotions about that. And what I found was if I charted out how disruption affected especially disruption affected, the change saturation layers of organizations, if you introduce so much disruption in implementing a system, that you that, that users end up being resentful of it, or feel out of control, they’re gonna turn to the one technology piece that makes them feel safe, which is spreadsheets, right? Because there’s a lot of control in spreadsheets, and you know, they’re like, you know, there’s no shame in them. And they’re so useful. And so and, but as soon as that happens, as soon as people start using those spreadsheets, instead of the core system, you already know, like, the data is now outside the system, all the changes that they’re making, don’t come back in and now your information isn’t going to Insight is just going to whatever operational need there is. So you’re you’re breaking that chain of data to information to insight. And so, but you’re breaking that not not because people are bad users, not because people don’t know what to do per se, but for a lot of emotional reasons. And so until you get it those emotions until you start addressing, how is it that we can how can we implement this technology without creating such high disruption that people saturation levels are just being blown? Until Until we start answering questions like that, we’re going to see the same kinds of results that we’ve been seeing. And for that, you know, you need your own methodology. So just like there’s agile and waterfall and the tech stack, those are great for implementing techniques. He, they’re terrible for implementing the human stack. Like that is not what they were designed for. And we don’t really have anything we call it user training. And anyway, that’s a very long answer to, to, to that.
Marco Campana 25:14
No, it’s a good, it’s comprehensive. And I mean, you’ve said a few things that always sort of trigger stuff for me like disruption, you know, that everybody’s focused on disruption, and we’ve got to be innovative. And so people come in, you know, and I mean, in our sector, we’ve also been talking about innovation versus iteration, right. So taking small steps that might lead us towards improving existing systems versus innovation and disruption, which is blowing it out of the water completely, which my experience tends to say to people you don’t know what you’re doing, will come in and give you the solution, right, and you just need to be compliant with it. And as you said, immediately, there’s there’s there’s fear, there’s, there’s, there’s emotion, there’s a lot of power interplay between the tech stack and the human stack, in a lot of cases, different languages used, right, that might, that people might completely understand. If they were using it, they use the same kind of language. But I see that a lot in, you know, people coming in and talking about, you know, user experience, user design, service design, human centered design, and you know, what they’re talking about as community development, community centric behavior, listening to Yes, communities that we’ve known about for decades, social work, and all that stuff. But a different language is used to suggest that you don’t really get it. And so they don’t find that middle ground all of a sudden, because there’s no translator or interpreter in the middle to say, oh, when they say that, what they mean is what you’ve been doing for 20 years? Yeah, how can we do it slightly differently, we’ve got some tools that you might want to experiment with. Instead, it’s like, Let’s wipe the slate, clean your blank slate, nothing you do works, we’re going to come in, and we’re going to solve it for you. And then when we see things like iteration, which is let’s talk about how spreadsheets are useful, but how can we step to the next step? Where what if we had a system where you could put all puts things together in that you could generate something that you all had access to? Would that be an interest? Would that you know, develop, you know, more more insight, or more more data or information that you could use? Instead of saying, can you share your spreadsheet with me? And then trying to figure out how to kind of combine them and stuff like that. So I guess, is that part of your approach, then is to talk about the different perspectives?
Tim Lockie 27:21
Sorry, my dogs are excited to talk to each other. Oh, that’s okay. Just one second, I think they’re gonna leave. Alright, good. Yeah, it’s so great. Like you’re you’re at you’re totally speaking my language on that. I mean, and to your point, like this, you are the industry in which, you know, asset based community development was created, where he say, let’s start with what is working instead of wiping the slate clean. And I do think
Tim Lockie 27:53
I do think I mean, let’s take disruption. First, I think that that’s a great place to start. Because technology, as an industry loves disruption, and is and thinks it’s amazing, you know, let’s just rip out everything that’s been and start all all over. Change saturation is a is a management consulting concept, that basically says, an organization’s change saturation is the amount of disruption relative to the amount of capacity that organization has for change. So when I look at disruption, I’m like, maybe that’s fun on the tech stack, but on the human stack, that is not fun. You know, Chris, and accounting is not happy when we just like blow everything up. And Chris has been like, holding back the waters to keep everything away from the Data Silo of the one, like really good data center that’s happening in the organization, which is almost always the general ledger, right. And so I think that there’s a lot to just understand where disruption has a downside in technology. And people are the ones that pay it. And not just not just anyone, but it is the people who have the lowest amount of digital literacy are the ones that pay the price on disruption. And in almost every organization, and also organizations have digital cultures that are located per team or department. So you know, there is not just learning to drive for a single person. It’s like driving those ladder trucks where there’s a steering wheel on the front and the back, right, here’s the coordination and a collaboration to this kind of digital work that’s really, really challenging that has to factor in as well. And I think that it’s that we’re technology has been slow to recognize the ways that it creates harm for individuals by this constant disruption. And, you know, what we call innovation on one side, you know, is just called absolute interruption and chaos on the other and And a lot of that is timescale. So you can, you can make changes on the tech stack in weeks and months, right? Like you can, you can move as fast as you can iterate. Because once you configure code, it behaves that way, every time the same way. Humans are not like that, it takes a long time to configure humans, they’re slow to change. They, they are incredible at things like story and insights and understanding what to do with the data once it’s turned into information. But it’s really challenging for humans, as a team and an organization, when you keep changing the rules quickly. And so humans really change in quarters and years. So you have to just think, you know, it’s the tortoise for the human stack, and it’s the hare for the tech stack. And if you have that timeframe in mind, suddenly, just the expectations clarify, you’re like, Okay, we’re gonna roll this out quickly. You know, so like, let’s get in, do a little bit, do this innovation. And then let’s just let that season for a couple of quarters. While we work that into how we do things. And, and a lot of this, I’m just gonna say is consultants false, like, this is the thing for consultants to solve. And I think that that is one of the things that I talk about with Katie Gibson quite a bit, is to just say that, you know, there is funding for this now, it’s amazing. But now there’s finally some funding for it. And there is more funder literacy, I’m not saying it’s great, but it’s better than it used to be, right? But it doesn’t matter. Because if there’s nothing on the shelves, if there’s no products, that you know, you can actually go purchase, that will create this in an organization, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the funding. And I feel like what I’ve done with the human stack is to say this, okay, this is what it looks like to implement, for the human side of things. You know, and, and it is taking into account, things like when you when a consultant starts to work with an organization, it takes three or four months, just to get those two organizations to sync up on schedule, it just takes a very long time, it’s not that they can’t meet at the same time is that humans take a while to create that interoperability between two teams. If you’re trying to do that around discovery of a new process, that creates a huge layer of abstraction that’s really challenging. For the people that do this the least that consultants do that discovery all the time they do that cycle over and over. But it might be the first time that Chris in accounting is in a room thinking about what’s wrong with the system, what frustrations do I have, you know, et cetera? And so I just think we could do better by saying, Chris and accounting what you know, what your what issues are you encountering in your existing system, forget the future, we’re going to get to that. But today, what’s in your way. And maybe there are 10 things, you know, across the organization that you could just go start fixing as a team right now in the existing system. And then you’ve got your thinking up on schedule, you’re solving those issues. And what consultants know is that they have to build trust right away. And they do this with a discovery process. I think that’s a terrible way to get buy in and trust, I think a better way is to get by an interest by helping in the current system, and using that time to create that, that synchrony that, that way of working together as a team. And so I call that digital guidance. That’s the name of the methodology. And, and it really pays attention to what work is configuring humans, what work is configuring tech stack. And the other the other issue related to the consulting side of things is that we consultants know, organizations are not going to pay for training, they’re not going to pay for governance, they’re not going to, like they won’t pay for the base amount of usability in their system. And we need to stop asking for that and say, here’s what the full package looks like, take it or leave it. And until until we get more professional services are willing to say like, if you’re if the outcome you want is this where you’re all working in a system together, then this is the course to get there. And these are the things that are not optional. Like no consultant says, What methodology Do you want to use agile or waterfall? You know, because a client would say none, That sounds expensive crap, so. So we have to actually just say, here’s what our work looks like. We’re experts in this and we know that this is the amount of time it will take to make these changes in your organization. And if you do that you slim down the amount of work by so much because we pack all of us consultants know we have to pad all of the project management side of our budgets by five to 8x in order to handle the conversations that clients don’t want to pay for every single time.
Marco Campana 34:59
That’s interesting. And I mean, that’s so there’s literacy on on on the service provider side and found to hire the right client. Because I mean, I hear so many examples. Salesforce and CRMs are a good example of they, they decide they need one. They hire somebody who says, Okay, I’ll give you Salesforce, there’s no actual interim listening or conversation figuring out, do you actually need a CRM? Is Salesforce, the right one? Or are we talking about something completely different here? And in the end, the technology solution might look radically different. So they get it, then there’s no training, there’s no governance, there’s no there’s no stick even have you will all now comply with this? And so they’ve invested $60,000 In a year later, everyone’s like you said back to their spreadsheets kind of thing.
Tim Lockie 35:41
Oh, yeah. So yeah, over and over, I mean, that you’re like, reading my mind. Yes. And, you know, in back to drivers, like, if you are going to learn to drive, it would not make sense to go buy a new car, and then learn to drive that, like, these systems, like the gas pedals and pretty much the same spot, there’s contacts, there’s households, there’s donations, like, there’s gonna be campaigns, like, no matter what like that the basics are going to be there. And every every CRM, the issue is going to be, you know, what’s the connection between your fundraiser and your and your finance team? And what’s the connection between program delivery, and the data that you’re doing and program delivery? And what do you need for grant writing, so that you can report back and you can say, here’s what the effective, you know, the effective nature of our work is, those are going to be in about the same spot, if you learn how to coordinate those between the humans, then you can pick up almost any car and drive it, right. Like this dynamics, you can you can do Okay, on that, maybe you need a smaller car like neon one at first, and that’s fine. You know, so I just think that, you know, we’re, a lot of times we’ve got our eyes on Formula One cars, and we just need, you know, a minivan for a daily computer that can haul a bunch of data around, that’s all we need. And so I think that we, we jumped so quickly to Okay, we’re gonna make us investment. It’s a big investment. So for, for awhile, I feel like nonprofits, God bless them go out and say, we’re just gonna spend the money. And they do. And I agree with six figures and 18 months later, they’re like, in the same spot with the same issues, because the issues we’re driving to begin with,
Marco Campana 37:26
right? So I feel like you’re building a system that will provide a new model for consultants, right, the digital guidance versus the discovery, something that’s a different approach that builds in must haves that maybe the client doesn’t even know that they need, but you’re not going to work with them until they recognize that this is a need on this on the service provider side, what, what are we talking about in terms of their skills, their their approach to this, what they need to be able to understand as well as to do to, to have a good relationship, a good experience, and to, you know, to make sure that what gets implemented gets created, actually gets implemented?
Tim Lockie 38:04
Yeah, I think that, you know, I think that that’s where my work really rests in convincing the market. I mean, this is the ultimate ocean boil, right? Like what you’re not supposed to do. And so this is we’re talking ecosystem wide change. And I’m here for it. Like, if there’s one thing that the nonprofit space is built for it is creating large, massive global change. So I’m like cure for that, because where it could happen. But you’re right, the service provider side of things, is really hard. Because we’ve all seen over and over, we’ve lost deals, when we’ve planted our heels in the ground and said, No, we know what you really need. And we’ve, you know, and then somebody with a less expensive RFP comes in, and takes that, and then what we know is, that vendor, they’re gonna do 30 of the work, and they’re gonna throw a change order, and it’ll be 2x what our original full package was. And, you know, so we see that over and over. So I do think that you’re, you’re right, there’s a large amount of, of change that has to happen on the service provider side. And the first one of those is, we have to decide if we’re dealerships of that, like, who is our client? Is our client, the car manufacturer, right? Or is our client, the nonprofit? And, and I’m, I’m partners with a lot or I’m friends with a lot of partners. And I know for a fact, we’re all out here trying to say, No, our client is the client, how do we deliver this in a way that a, they will select us from a group of vendors, because we can’t even get the deals and it’s not going to work? But be what does that look like? And what I developed was a way for V’s to not be contradictory, where you can basically say, you have a human stack team and you have a tech stack team. And the timing that you roll those things out with the decrease in the amount on of work on the tech stack, combined with the amount of the layer that you can do on the human stack, it solves a bunch of other hidden issues. One of the big ones is the space between phases is where it all goes wrong. So you’re in, you do a phase of work with a client, you leave the room for 12 months, while they’re like thinking about what’s next, you come back in for phase two. And phase one is just completely out of whack. The data’s all gone, you know, that space between those two was really the seasoning space where you need the consultant in the room, you know, not just managed services, but really to be saying like, where are we going? That’s where governance actually plays a role in strategic plans have to have that kind of eyes on them. And these are the roles that really good professional service firms want to play. And they don’t know how to get there. And a lot of that is just what are the tools? What’s the language? What’s the mindset and the models that get us there. That’s what the human stack is trying to develop. And we are we’ve done a couple of courts now, where we’ve brought in professional service firms to say, here’s what it looks like, this is what it can be like. And we’re growing, we’re growing a wing of the human stack called powered by the human stack, which is for partners, to learn how to develop those skills and to and to create that space look. And there’s, you know, there’s job descriptions and roles for for digital guidance for partners just on that as well.
Marco Campana 41:32
That’s a great segue because I was gonna say you’re you’re you’re implementing a certification, a learning process, both for consultants, as well as for Nonprofit Professionals. And so if my audience is going to be mostly nonprofit professionals, and they’re thinking, Okay, I like what I’m hearing, I like this approach. I like that some consultants are being brought into it as well, because none of this matters if I’m not working with people who also get it. Right. So there’s a whole growth side of that thing. So I’m an executive and I’m like, Okay, I’m, I’m we’re doing piecemeal digital transformation because of the pandemic. But we recognize we need to do something more fulsome, but I don’t feel confident in my own abilities. And I’m trying to find a place a community, but also a learning space where I can kind of figure this out. What does the cohorts offer them? What is your training offer someone in that space?
Tim Lockie 42:21
Yeah. And just a shout out to those executives who feel are really like, I didn’t I don’t have the training for this. Why am I in this position? Like, where are we get it? Like, I am so sympathetic to that position. And, and yeah, so what, what the human stack is doing is creating a, a, an online course. So we’re doing one more cohort this fall. And by by January, we will have an online course and community that a nonprofit can, can join, and learn how to do this on their timeframe on their scale, and join a community of others that are doing that. And going through that same time, with a weekly clinic and access to me for questions. That’s the key that’s to make it accessible and self guided for nonprofits of any size. And for partners is really helpful, because that’s a base layer that they can say, join this community be part of this and knowing that this methodology is what we’re all talking about. And we’re all making our way forward. And so they could go to the human stack website, click on Join the cohort, we’re going to be launching one, mid October. So feel free to join that if you’re missing that one, just click on the button that is going to be there and isn’t right now that says, waitlist, we’d love to have you join as soon as we’ve got that. As soon as we’ve got that in the new year. And and you’re right, the intention behind that is to say there’s a large amount of, of learning needs to happen for two roles in the nonprofit one is the guide. And the other is the leader. And the leader is a small amount of mindset that is like here’s what we’re doing. And really the leaders job is to be the countability not and not policing, accountability, but recognition. Like we want, we want leaders to look at what the technology teams are doing in to say, thank you Good job, we noticed that we appreciate it. And this is this is so important for that work to continue. And then for the guide, we do a lot around here the weekly actions that you take your the monthly actions that you that you look at here is the goals that you set and how you set them. Here’s how you could like we get very, very in the weeds on how you perform the right kinds of actions that create that long term change that you can see over time. So that is all part of what we will what what people enjoyed in the online community at the human stack, and we’d love to have them join.
Marco Campana 44:50
Awesome. Yeah, I’ll be definitely sharing that in the show notes. So there’s so much I think I can go down the rabbit hole with you on and maybe we’ll have another conversation in particular about data Because I think that’s,
Tim Lockie 45:00
that’s Oh my gosh, yeah, conversation. Absolutely.
Marco Campana 45:05
But thank you for this. Is there anything that you want? I mean, there’s tons of lessons here. I’ll distill them in the notes and stuff. But is there anything that you want to leave people thinking about? When it comes to the human stack moving forward? Before we end our conversation?
Tim Lockie 45:20
Yeah, I just want to say it’s possible. You know, I just want to I just want you to understand if you’ve taken like four swings at the Tech, and you’re just like, it doesn’t land and you’re feeling frustrated. And you know, whether you’re a leader that’s like, I don’t know how to make this decision. Or maybe you’re, you know, you got voluntold to do the CRM. And now you need data. And you know, this is not what you studied, you studied, you know, writing or, like, it’s okay, you can do this. We’ve seen it happen before. And it’s, please come over, join the community, let us be there for you. Because it really is about belonging, that technical skills we’ve got that will teach those but really, I’m wanting to create this community so that people have a place to land where they feel like, Oh, here’s a group that understands what I’m what I’m feeling what I’m going through.
Marco Campana 46:13
Now, that’s amazing, because I think the learning is one thing, the course is another but that idea of continuing to have a professional peer network, it can be so valuable. So it’s great that you’re developing that as well. Well, listen, Tim, thank you so much for taking the time. Really great to have this conversation with you. I’m excited about the human stack. I’m happy to share it and looking forward to hopefully bringing some folks into your fold. So thank you again for for taking the time today. Really?
Tim Lockie 46:36
Yeah, thank you so much. Mark. Alyn. Please keep up the good work. What you do is really important. So thank you,
Marco Campana 46:41
you as well. You as well, like we said earlier, mutual admiration society.
Tim Lockie 46:45
Marco Campana 46:46
Thanks again. Thanks so much for listening. I hope you found this episode interesting and useful for you and your work. You can find more podcast episodes, wherever you listen to your podcasts are also on my site www.marcopolis.org I appreciate you listening and if you have any tips, suggestions, ideas or want to be interviewed or know someone who wants to be interviewed, please drop me a line through my website, or email@example.com Thanks again.
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