The Unknown State in Digital Transformations. The Importance of Human Emotion.

Almost every organisation considers a digital transformation to be a transition from a known current state to a (somewhat) known future state. In reality, there is a third state that must be navigated through before arriving at your actual future state; the Unknown State.

Almost every organisation considers a digital transformation to be a transition from a known current state to a (somewhat) known future state. In reality, there is a third state that must be navigated through before arriving at your actual future state; the Unknown State.

The Unknown State is what causes anxiety and nervousness around digital transformation.

Software can be procured fundamentally in two different ways; the first one is to subscribe to an online service that functions the way it functions and you pay per use. The second option is to purchase (on-premise) or subscribe to a platform that is adapted to your organisational needs and evolved with you over time.

When selecting an online service (such as Mail Chimp or Survey Monkey), you are essentially shopping for a product that can be compared to other offerings in the marketplace; this can be compared to buying apples you can see, touch, and taste prior to purchase.

Product features are well-known and understood at the beginning of the purchase process and an assessment of suitability can be made with relative ease in most circumstances.

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Building a new transformational platform solution (such as Salesforce) is a completely different experience and therefore requires a different mindset.

Most good implementation partners will provide your organisation with a set of solution components that can get you started (we offer a large range of these at Vertic to our clients) but at some point your uniqueness will drive functionality that will need to be designed and developed specifically for you.

When this time comes, the process of analysing and determining feature design will, at some point, look at the current operational state as well as design a desired future state. Your team will come up with new features that would be great to have whilst also being focused on maintaining the operational capabilities you have today.

Here is the challenge: your future state is totally unknown until it has been developed. It only exists in people’s imagination and, at times, in a functional design document.

This means, that transitioning from your current state to your desired future state will require you to go through the Unknown State; a state in which your organisation does not have certainty of ultimate outcome.

A Leap of Faith is required to get to your future state. The greater the leap, the greater chance of success.

This leap of faith applies to four components of your digital transformation:

  1. The platform technology you select. Pick a platform that serves your needs today but also is underpinned by a roadmap that allows your organisation to evolve with it. You need the features within the platform to take you forward and you need to roadmap to build confidence not to be technologically restricted over time.
  2. The implementation partner you select. Pick a firm that has the proven experience in what you are aiming to achieve and work with them as a true partnership. Embrace their people and allow the teams to become one. Encourage client/supplier boundaries to disappear and select a service provider who shares those principles.
  3. Your team’s ability to trust the process based on the first two selections. Once you have made the first two selections, the time has come to trust in what the technology and service provider bring to the table. There is little point in making these important selections and then not taking on board what is their expertise.
  4. Your organisation’s ability to remain open-minded and adapt to new ideas. A good service provider will challenge your thinking and processes; this, in essence, is the purpose of the transformation. The technology will support whatever ideas are presented so it’s very important to remain open-minded throughout the process.

At Vertic, we are a nonprofit focused consulting firm offering our clients the knowledge, experience, and technical solution components to make this leap of faith as measured as possible.

We underpin our work with the Salesforce digital platform using the Nonprofit Success Pack complemented by our solution components and user stories wherever suitable to kickstart your implementation.

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