Getting Started

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Section I: Getting Started Means Getting CLEAR.

Starting a new project is never easy, and this assignment is no exception. At the outset, the specific assignment was to construct a Short-Form Policy Business Plan in order to promote a policy to address an entrepreneurship-related problem in one of three sectors: Healthcare IT, Clean Energy, and Learning Technology. Immediately, two problems arose: what are the exact specifications of this project, and what problem should our group attempt to solve?

Obstacle I: Lack of clarity on exact assignment specifications.

Fully understanding the specifications of any project is a difficult task. Even with a full project description, there can be ambiguities and multiple interpretations. Without a full project description, the obstacle is even greater.

Possible Solutions I:

  • Meet with your group and discuss the various understandings of the assignment. Even if not every detail is agreed upon, the basic structure will become clearer than it was initially.
  • Do not hesitate to contact those running the program. Ongoing communication often eliminates any discrepancies in understanding (on both ends).


Obstacle II: What problem should our group attempt to solve?

Before a specific problem can be identified, one of the three areas of possible research must be selected. Choosing between Healthcare IT, Clean Energy, or Learning Technologies can be a simple task, or it can be quite difficult, based on the interests and experiences of the group.

Possible Solutions II:

  • Consider the interests and backgrounds of the group –does one particular area stand out?
  • Check if any of the group members are taking classes with professors that specialize in one of these particular areas, or if anyone has any relevant contacts in these fields.


Obstacle III:

One of the most potent threats to the success of such a project is its time sensitive nature. Figuring out how to effectively divide up the time before a final deadline can be extremely unclear and overwhelming.

Possible Solution III:

  • From the outset, create a work plan with goals and corresponding deadlines. Having a clearly defined strategy to approach the big-picture task allows for more effective division of labor, provides group focus, and lays out concrete steps that lead to accomplish the overall goal.
  • Division of labor will inevitably occur, however by keeping everyone “in the loop” about who is working on which tasks ensures that progress will not be scattered or irrelevant.

 

Possible Resources To Consider:

  • Team Members: Do not underestimate the value of ongoing discussion with your tea members. Communicating ideas is helpful so that your group can be on the same page, but also important in order to clarify and consolidate thoughts for oneself. Additionally, team members may have access to valuable resources.
  • External Experts: External experts such as professors, individuals in a particular industry, or government officials are a great way to get tailored knowledge about a particular question.

Words of Advice:

  • Jump into the project even before everything is completely clear. The various nuances of the project will become clear as one actually starts working. Adapting prior work to new criteria is often easier than waiting until the end to complete everything.
  • This project has two core components: policy and entrepreneurship. Understanding both elements and how they fit together is achieved through ongoing research supplemented by dialogue with those experienced in these areas. Such an approach ensures that a given proposed policy is not too focused on either of the two components.
 

Tips:

  1. Communicate and check in regularly with your team and program coordinator: more people aware of the situation allows for better feedback and a more focused direction.
  2. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help; humility is a virtue in getting started.
  3. From the outset, create a work plan. Establish clear and realistic goals leading from the start of the project to the date of completion.
  4. External experts and administrators can be hard to reach or slow to respond. Thus, it is your job to set up meetings far in advance.