Scaling and Connecting
Moving from one or two small things to a regular emphasis on mental wellness as part of campus culture is an ongoing effort. Scaling up your mental wellness work requires student leaders to connect to others in order to support efforts on a greater scale. Scaling up can be in size, frequency, reach, number of collaborators, production quality, inclusion, or other measures of impact.
As student leaders and ASEC executive move forward in these and other areas, they will need to consider how to scale and sustain their efforts.
Scale by Connecting – for Student Leaders on Campus
The following diagram shows a simple model for connection and collaboration that will provide relationships that can help efforts to scale.
Local student associations work together provincially as ASEC, and take on different roles and focus when acting in their local community or working together under the provincial ASEC banner.
- Local student leaders connect to their campus (including the student body, administration, faculty and staff).
- They also connect to their local community, including local government, community programs, and local mental health programs and providers.
- Student leaders also connect to ASEC to establish a collective voice, greater influence, and to connect with their peers at other member institutions.
- Finally, student leaders may find occasion to connect with provincial actors like the provincial government (e.g., through lobby week) or through the provincial community of practice. This provincial connection is enabled through collective action as ASEC, and complements the student leaders’ work on their own campus, community, and their peer connections to other schools and leaders who make up ASEC.
Note that all of these connections occur against the backdrop of the whole system, in all its complexity. While the diagram shows simplified communication, the actual experience of reaching out and connecting can be complicated. However, despite the messiness of managing all these conversations and relationships, this is where the greatest opportunities emerge and co-creation can truly happen.
Scale by Connecting – for Student Leaders with ASEC
ASEC works at a broader provincial level in their contributions to mentally healthy campuses. ASEC is the collaboration of these member student associations, student leaders, and ASEC staff.
- ASEC primarily enables the network of member student associations to learn from each other and collaborate together. This means connecting to member institutions, and helping institutions connect to each other.
- ASEC also brings a collective student voice forward on the provincial stage, including with the provincial government, and the provincial community of practice. Their voice helps to remind others of the diverse characteristics of members’ campuses.
- This collective provincial voice for students also enables collaborations across institutions and between different stakeholder groups.
- Finally, ASEC staff may occasionally support member institutions by reaching out at a community level, either to local government or to other local contributors. However, this is secondary communication, and follows the lead of the local members.
Scale with the Maturity Model
Scaling (getting bigger, or better, or more consistent and effective) is at the heart of the maturity model [LINK to maturity model]. By considering the different elements of the model, student leaders can identify different areas to expand their efforts.
This expansion may include further refinement of areas that already demonstrate success, or may focus on factors that are not as strong and hold back the student association from performing to its potential.
Scale with the Flywheel and Continuity
Keeping the flywheel spinning is its own kind of scaling—a scaling of momentum. This is true, even if the specific projects are small and focused—in fact, especially if the portfolio of projects is small and focused.
Keeping the flywheel spinning requires you to keep an eye on the momentum over time. Are you expanding the number of players working to create synergy across their various efforts? Are you helping others to focus their efforts more appropriately on the actual student experience?
The flywheel grows stronger across levels, and across time. Consider the story told during a student leader’s term. That story is a chapter in the story of years on campus, and the greater collective story of ASEC members and others who partner to foster mentally healthy campuses across the province and beyond.
Building the Flywheel
Building the flywheel is the overall collection of coherent effort by student leadership and their partners across the campus community. Four specific areas maximize the momentum in your flywheel.
- Manage your portfolio
- Increase the number and quality of working relationships.
- Develop a cycle of evaluation and learning.
- Invest in continuity while passing the torch.
Manage Your Portfolio
Investing in the flywheel requires more vision than vanity. The consistency and frequency of needed activities means that you need to manage your portfolio carefully. Just a few big activities may generate more attention and personal recognition, but they lack the frequency and consistency to nudge behavior in the long term.
With this portfolio management approach, you will also shift your range of involvement from leading an activity to supporting it in other ways. This involvement lets you cover more ground, but others will sometimes get credit for your work. In the big picture, building momentum in the flywheel outshines the credit for one or two projects.
Increase the number and quality of working relationships
No student leader or student association can create a mentally healthy campus alone. To succeed you need strong working relationships with other contributors. As you scale your efforts, you will need to add to the number of relationships that you have. As you do so, also work on the quality of your current relationships to deepen and strengthen them for the long term—these relationships are critical not only for your immediate work, but also for the ongoing success of your successors and student association.
Develop a Cycle of Evaluation and Learning
Use the toolkit Evaluation and Learning Framework [link to Evaluation and Learning] to begin or strengthen how you understand the success of projects. Considering inputs, activities, outputs, and also what? helps you to build momentum by finding which set of activities fits well in your own campus context.
Invest in Continuity while Passing the Torch
Continue to build momentum through focus, perseverance, and consistency. During transitions between student leadership (both incoming and outgoing), focus your time on continuity to minimize loss of momentum. This includes explaining operations for specific initiatives. However, what is most important is to ensure that relationships continue and that shared values are conveyed and understood about the importance of mental health and a holistic approach to the mentally healthy campus.