Recently I worked with a nonprofit on lifecycle analysis at a Board retreat. The group was wholly engaged in the discussion and it helped them clearly focus on things they should be including in their strategic planning process which they were about to begin. I had been using Nonprofit Lifecycles: Stage-Based Wisdom for Nonprofit Capacity (2002) by Susan Stevens as the resource for this work for a long time. In preparation for this retreat, I bought Building Nonprofit Capacity: A Guide to Managing Change Through Organizational Lifecycles by John Brothers and Anne Sherman published in October 2011. This work builds on the Stevens model and presents a new, less traditional and more modern approach to lifecycle analysis. Each has value and they are complimentary of each other so I recommend both resources.
The Stevens model seems easier to work with in a group and easier for all to understand the basic concepts. I started out with this model and had each participant use a red dot to show which stage they thought the organization was at for various capacities. Then we looked at the Brothers/Sherman model and had a discussion on the phase from that perspective. This model provided an updated picture of priorities for the infrastructure stage with growth and sustainability as the focus.
This was an in-depth analysis that worked well with an engaged Board that is eager to always be taking the next step and bring their organization to new levels. If you are such a Board or will be working with one, I suggest you check this out. Here are the slides from this presentation: