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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Lots of the literature now asks you to consider where your organization is in its “life cycle”. Some of the diagrams and descriptions are so dense they give me a headache and my eyes glaze over.
But the reality is that every organism has a life cycle- from a nematode to a human to a business to a non-profit and many more examples along the way. We remember from Biology 101 the great diagrams and we know from our own experience that various parts of our body and mind mature and change at differing rates. We take intervention steps to align these elements in order to remain as healthy and active as possible.

Why should an organization not have a life cycle of its own? There are many moving parts and they don’t all remain in alignment as an agency grows and matures.
I believe in looking at non-profits from a life cycle perspective and here is why:
There are 6 essential stages in any organization
1.    Grass Roots /Invention
2.    Start-Up/Incubation           
3.    Adolescent/Growing
4.    Mature/Sustainability
5.    Stagnation and Renewal
6.    Decline and Shut-Down
There are 7 elements in in the organizational structure that need examination through this prism
1.    Programs and services
2.    Staff Leadership/Management
3.    Staffing
4.    Governance/Board
5.    Operating systems
6.    Finances/Budget/Development
7.    Marketing and communications

Now look at your organization and create a matrix using the above. Where are your stages and elements in alignment? Should they all be at the place? Where do you need intervention in stages 1 through 4 to avoid stages 5 and 6? Where do you need emergency response for elements in stage 5 and potentially 6?

There are key questions to ask at each stage to identify obstacles and opportunities. In addition there are some proven “transition” steps to help you move forward and/or reverse course.

As many of you know my watchword for nonprofits is INTENTION. Examining the places in your organizations life cycle and being “intentional” about positive intervention will allow you to reimagine, regroup and regenerate. 

Think about it.

Life Cycle adapted from and expanded upon “The 5 Life Stages of Non-profits” by Judith Sharken Simon. 

Recipe and cooking hints


4 lbs. raw shrimp, frozen with tails on
½ c. capers
1 c. marinated artichoke hearts, cut in ½ or 1/3rds depending on size.
1 c. diced Havarti or Fontina cheese
olive oil, lemon juice and champagne vinegar

I buy all the ingredients at Costco.

Heat Oven to 425.
Place shrimp on baking sheet. Toss lightly with olive oil and herbs de province. Bake for 15-20 minutes and check for doneness; do not overcook.
Peel tails (ugh, messy but baking with tails on adds moisture and flavor.)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix adding olive oil, lemon juice and champagne vinegar to taste.
You may also add salt and pepper but use a light hand with the salt because of the salt in the capers and cheese.

Some people like more or less capers, artichokes and cheese. Please yourself, you’re the cook!