To explain the concept, we are going to draw on another profession. In producing a movie, television program, advertisement, or public service announcement, a videographer has two methods available to develop the program: linear and nonlinear. There are parallels to nonprofit development that a skilled executive director or manager can use to address the needs of organizational operations and development.
Until recently, technology for a videographer was limited to sequential content (program) development. A storyboard (plan) was developed that showed the scope of the program. The storyboard was designed to show each segment of the program. Videography (shooting, taping) was done in sequence and edited back to back. Cutting and splicing each portion physically kept the program on track, but it destroyed any pieces that didn’t fit. They were “lost on the cutting room floor”.
New technology enables a videographer to segment the entire program, have segments developed out of sequence, and put together in their respective places. The program director oversees the entire program coming together. The end result is a refined program presented seamlessly to the world. Outtakes remain for supplemental programs as well as future iterations of the same program.
Taking it a step further, advanced government planners (national, state, city) utilize the concept of Spatial Planning, originally termed in 1983 by the regional planning members of the European Conference of Ministers. It defines the comprehensive development of a community. It goes far beyond the space planning of land use considering economic, cultural, social, and ecological short and long term systems.
To see the significance, look into the development time and costs that movie and television executives have been able to cut. Economics forced them to look for ways to make higher quality programs in less time and effort over the past decade. Advanced cities, states, and countries have found the benefits of spatial planning effective in projecting development along with social changes. Today’s technology gives nonprofit planning the same benefits. From a vision, a program developed nonlinearly and spatially gets all of the elements operating at their capacity to be brought together successfully.
Moving from linear program development to nonlinear spatial planning cuts the time of development exponentially; while gaining the added benefits of supplemental and future iterations of your programs and services. The end result is a well planned linear program presentation.