Tools for Strategic Perspective
The Campus Wellness toolkit includes several tools that help student leaders and others as they work to address the student experience and the whole system through student led activities and broader collaborations.
Within the toolkit are resources to help student leaders and others develop a strategic viewpoint.
Strategy within complex systems requires both a big picture view and specific focus to ground your actions. As discussed above, for a mentally healthy campus, these two perspectives include the campus context and the student experience.
The campus context shows the big picture, and is represented in the toolkit through the ACMHI Systemic Maturity Model (see the document “Recognizing progress: ACMHI Systemic Maturity Model” in the Tools section) This model discusses in detail various elements that combine as a whole system to foster mental wellness.
The student experience is an individual’s journey over time before, during, and after their educational experience. That may range from a six-week on-campus experience for an apprentice before returning to the field through to a four-year degree program with regular semesters.
The Student Journey Map (see the document “Imbedding strategy on the student experience: ACMHI Student Journey Map” in the Tools section) provides this perspective on the individual experiences that students have on campus.
Considering the student experience against the background of the campus context represented in the maturity model helps student leaders to have a better strategic perspective so they can prioritize, plan, act, learn, and share planning with other parties.
ELF – The Evaluation and Learning Framework
Most often, people recognize the need to evaluate so they can be accountable to funders – in fact most funders now require an evaluation process, and it’s becoming increasingly common for funders to expect you to show outcomes or impact – not simply activities.
It’s also becoming more obvious that we need to adapt to ever changing situations – the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” just doesn’t apply any more. This is because the environment is changing, so what you need to do to stay relevant and to make your desired impact, needs to adapt to the changes. You need information to adapt. People who want to make real change recognize the value of evaluation for their own purposes – so they can understand what’s working and what’s not, and make changes to be more effective.
In addition to outcomes, you want to track your capability to make the change you want. The Maturity Model is one way to track whether you’re continuously improving your capabilities, and to identify your best next steps.
A continuous learning process also is important. You know about learning from books and lectures. Watching what’s happening when you implement a plan, and making adjustments to improve is learning from experience.
Continuous learning brings different people together to share what they each see and hear, in terms of how well a strategy is working. A round table discussion around a general question such as “What have we learned about this activity, that we didn’t know before” helps identify surprising insights that no one person can ever have on their own. This collective learning process also helps a team to develop an understanding of how all the pieces fit together, and how each person’s role contributes to the whole – so it has more benefit than just adapting the strategy!