The Fundamentals Framework

Initiatives with specific timelines and tangible outcomes should be broken into the following steps: assess requirements, planning/testing, execution, and documentation.

As a student leader, you need to think about the entire picture. It is as important as the immediate concerns, if not more important. Understanding how the immediate problem and your potential solutions impacts the overall goal is imperative. I like to break my initiatives into the following steps:
  1. Assess Requirements
    1. Survey your stakeholders, and try to determine what success looks like for them. Identify common themes and desired metrics. Endeavor to understand the needs of your constituency and what steps to take to fulfill those needs.
  2. Planning/Testing
    1. After you’ve composed a list of requirements, it’s time to start planning your initiative. Think about the steps that you’ll have to take to ensure your logistics are in order. Which organizations or individuals do you need to connect with to get the necessary permissions or endorsements? Do actions need to be taken in a sequential order? Who gets assigned to what task? What milestones do you need to hit to ensure you’re on track and under budget? Who’s in charge of bringing cookies?
    2. During this phase, you’ll want to stress test your plan if you have time. Think about the assumptions that are built in and whether those assumptions will hold in real life. Run simulations and adapt your plan accordingly.
  3. Execute
    1. It’s go time. At this point, you’ll need to focus on adapting to the situations that arise. Your previous planning will orient you if you lose your way.
  4. Document
    1. Now that your initiative is over, it’s time to document the lessons learned. Think about all the things that went right, wrong, and weird. Explain the cause and effect for those who might seek to try similar initiatives in the future.
These steps are invaluable for initiatives that have extended timelines and tangible outcomes. Fortunately, most of the events you’ll plan in The Fundamentals sections fulfill those criteria. This guide will take you from assess to execution. For documentation purposes, keep your own reflections in a personal drive. But, when you become a leader, feel free to disseminate your knowledge through shared drives and encourage others to create best practice documents as well.

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