One of the most recent training exercises that we have designed involved looking at new ways of overcoming barriers. Quite a lot of the other exercises that we have tailored to this section of the model have focussed on the power of the group for inspiration – for example presenting a difficult case to the other members of the training group and asking them for positive suggestions on how to overcome these barriers.
For this exercise, though, we wanted workers to find their own solutions to the barriers that they were facing. In small groups of around 3 or 4, we asked them to identify the biggest barriers that they themselves faced that would stop them from implementing the Connecting People Intervention as they would otherwise want to. We also asked them what they thought the biggest barrier facing the individuals that they worked with was, which would stop them from moving on.
These barriers tended to be quite overarching concepts – for example ‘lack of funds’ for the worker or ‘lack of motivation’ for the individual. They were seen as large, somewhat insurmountable barriers due to their abstract nature and therefore difficulty in dealing with.
The workers were then asked to take each of the barriers identified, and on large pieces of paper split them into their component parts to form a spider diagram. The barriers continued to be broken down until they reached a collection of singular, discrete problems. Once workers had got to this stage, they were asked to think creatively about a solution – imagining that apart from this one issue, there were no other barriers faced.
The first time that we conducted this exercise we had expected the solutions that they came up with to be quite fantastical given this freedom, however we were pleasantly surprised that the workers tended to give very practical solutions that were perhaps just slightly outside of something that they would have done in every day practice.
When workers had come up with a solution, we asked them to circle it so we could see where it was on the page, and then carry on thinking up solutions for each of the discrete problems.
Once this had been accomplished, the groups were instructed to look again at each of the solutions, now in the cold light of reality and with the other barriers that were faced back in play. They then circled the solutions that could still be achieved in a different colour.
Most were surprised to see that in fact, the majority of their solutions were realistic in the present, and could be achieved. We created a quick chart to show the major barrier and the small component solutions that could be implemented to at least partially overcome it. This was incorporated as part of the training material given to the group after the session, to enable them to work more effectively with the intervention. Workers feedback suggested that this approach was a useful one, and that they would not only be repeating this process on other barriers, but also would refer back to the list for practical solutions should they face one of those that they had examined during that training session.