Origin Stories

18.12.23 09:56 AM By Elliott Wood

The Technology Problem is almost never a Technology Problem

I started Strategic Matter to address a problem that I've felt over the past twenty years of developing technology strategy for large companies, non-profits, and churches. Usually, the call to me came because my clients felt the problem at a tactical level - their technology didn't seem to serve their needs.


As a workaround, people resort to managing organizational data on dozens of spreadsheets.


Making decisions with any level of data required many hours of re-entering data from one spreadsheet to another, then emailing that spreadsheet to someone else, who would in turn update another spreadsheet and email it on. Eventually, it might make its way to the executive assistant of the executive director.


And this would happen every week. We added up the amount of time one client spent updating and emailing spreadsheets to a little over 40 hours per week across six different people. That's a whole person's salary.


But in serving hundreds of organizations, the technology problem was almost never technology problem. 


  1. Many organizations, especially those in the faith non-profit world, have a great sense of identity. They KNOW their mission, vision, and values. Those statements are printed on all the walls. But they struggle with developing mature repeatable processes. Connecting the dots between where the organization is going (vision) and how exactly, they plan to do that, is fuzzy.
  2. Teams don't team - it became clear to me that a key problem is that in many organizations, the departments aren't connected to each other. They function in silos. Few of the workers have a clear view of the organization as a whole.
  3. Roles aren't clear. Like a little league soccer team, the staff have a general sense of the direction of the goal but don't have clear processes to "pass the ball" to one another. As a result, there are many redundant processes and many gaps where things fall between the cracks. More importantly, people fall through the cracks.
  4. People aren't clear on what they should be measuring to know whether they are succeeding, and they don't know how to measure, or they don't know how to measure efficiently. They spend TONS of time on reports that don't have any action associated with them, only to print them and file them each week.


In almost every project I've worked on, we would get to configuring important parts of the software and I would start to diagram the current process - only to be told, "there is no process."


So that's the problem I've launched Strategic Matter to address - helping organizations define the space between vision, mission, and values that define HOW an organization will function. Strategy, or more simply, the collection of plans and process that move an organization from where they are, to where they want to be, as a team, with specific actions and roles. 

Elliott Wood