RIP, Strategic Plan

It puts Post-its on the wall. It does this whenever the consultant tells it.

Strategic Plan, 104, died September 24, 2020 in Bemidji, MN, with 12.3 million nonprofit staffers by its side. A socially distanced memorial service was held Thursday evening at an outdoor park. The space was generously gifted, in-kind, by Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership — a 501(c)(3) parks conservancy that is still waiting for its tax receipt.

Strategic Plan was born in France as “Administration Industrielle et Générale” (or “General and Industrial Management“) in 1916, the lovechild of James Henri Fayol, the father of modern management (Candy & Gordon, 2011). As a youth, Strategic Plan was largely misunderstood, even after being translated to English in 1949. For many decades, its societal benefit was not fully realized, until the mid-1980s when large and small nonprofit organizations alike began spending ample time in board meetings discussing how they could spend even more time visioning and ideating about the future.

Strategic Plan was at its best when holed up in executive hotel conference rooms — over the course of at least three half-day sessions — led by an inexperienced consultant who was strongly suggested/recommended by the board president. As a young adult, it was inquisitive and full of potential; its closest friends knew it as “ambitious,” “bold,” and “a giant waste of the staff’s time.” As it aged, its goals became even more ambitious and bold, and it took on the role of really drilling down into how we can turn these challenges into opportunities.

Over the past ~40 years, Strategic Plan was involved with many NPOs who could find the extra capacity-building funding in their budgets, particularly those whose missions center on “transforming the community we [sic] serve through meaningful outreach and engagement.” Its interests included buy-in from stakeholders, being printed on premium 32lb high-gloss paper, and a strong understanding of just how the heck we’re going to fundraise for all these priorities.

Strategic Plan is survived by its spouse, Development Plan. Though estranged, Strategic Plan is also survived by Colored Post-it Notes Affixed To Larger Post-it Notes. It was preceded in death by S.W.O.T. analysis.

Instead of donations, the family asks for those with means to talk with their local community foundation about creating as many low-activity donor-advised funds as possible, with the hope that one day some of those funds will be directed to at least one actual nonprofit.

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