Viewing Salesforce implementations and their use at nonprofits as fission and fusion reactions, what is the value of, and components inherent in, creating fusion-powered Salesforce? In this series, I’ll review our vision of the differences between approaching Salesforce implementations as these moments in time versus self-sustaining organisms; recognizing the kind of Salesforce implementation you have; and and re-defining what a Salesforce implementation can be given new parameters that include capacity, leadership, engagement, and internal understanding and alignment.
There are two basic kinds of nuclear reactions in this world: fission and fusion. Fission is a process of decay that releases energy, and fusion is a self-sustaining activity that produces energy. For starters, fission reactions take a lot less energy to kick off, but ultimately come to a conclusion – in the world of Salesforce implementations, this is project success, implementation failure. Fusion reactions require different, more refined components than their fission counterparts, a higher starting temperature, and more-focused parameters to successfully initiate. And yes, I am a Geek who knows a bit about this, being a former material science engineering major (for one semester!) in college.
For my time and money, I’d opt for fusion every time. But why are so many Salesforce implementations fission-based? Reactive, decaying, and ultimately toxic to the end users and organizations who initiated them. I’d posit, that because to the layperson, a fission explosion and a fusion explosion look the same – they’re both complicated nuclear processes that put out a tremendous amount of energy and create change. The bottom line in dollars of one project that proposes a wide swath of energetic components across an organization looks a lot like another that proposes a deeper focus with a different mix of energetic engagement across an organization.
We know that fusion is ultimately cleaner and self-sustaining, particularly in the context of a holistic use for its energy across an organization. And I’m not talking about Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future II that turns garbage into DeLorean fuel (this is 2015, after all). I mean the sincere fusion of people, departments, organizational leadership and executive sponsorship that come together to make Salesforce an investment that will outlive their own tenure, and provide a long-term home for constituent engagement.
Let’s start by examining a basic premise of Salesforce implementations: change. Positive, amazing, and organization-altering change. The unspoken undercurrent of change is fear. Fear that the changes brought by an implementation will leave behind people, departments, and entire beliefs about how your nonprofit conducts business. Fear that is amplified by the constraints of time, people, money and other sector-wide factors that mean that every technology project great or small is THE project. This will be THE project in which our hopes for a better way are finally found, the project that won’t fail, and sadly, often the project that can’t fail. Unlike for-profit companies that implement Salesforce, which aren’t constrained by the realities of the nonprofit sector and where failure is an educational moment, too often, failure in the nonprofit sector is often a dashing of hopes and dreams that may never receive the same attention of time and money again regardless of what was learned.
Because technology implementations at nonprofits can often operate in this “can’t fail” mode, the wide swath of a fission project is selected because the perceived value is greater than one that starts small and focused, with time for alignment, engagement, and organizational leadership to emerge around a Salesforce implementation. This is the basic premise of Fusion-Powered Salesforce for your organization, and it is possible.
Next week, we will look at the characteristics of Fusion-Powered Salesforce, and the symptoms that indicate your organization may be in the middle of a fission reaction.