Working as a member of a team can be challenging. Team members bring different types of experience to the table. Some are more comfortable voicing their opinion than others. However, all team members have extremely valuable perspectives and ideas about how to address program challenges. Grantees can use proven team-based problem-solving activities to help ensure that all team members participate in developing and prioritizing solutions to program challenges.

A new tip sheet describes some of these activities and explains how grantees can use them to address challenges. SWFI grantees also participated in live demonstration calls of these activities in August and September 2019.

       Each of the two calls was focused on a primary challenge common across SWFI grantees:  

  • Challenge 1 (8/27/2019): Our SWFI program is not meeting enrollment targets.

  • Challenge 2 (9/10/2019): Participants complete training, but do not receive a credential.

    On each call, the SWFI TA team engaged the attending SWFI grantees in the following brainstorming activities:

        Innovate Phase: Creative Matrix   

Grantees use a creative matrix to explore potential solutions to challenges. The creative matrix takes the form of a chart or table, starting with potential causes of challenges turned into aspirational statements. For example, for a grantee whose primary challenge is that participants are completing training but not receiving a post-training credential, one identified cause might be a lack of participant motivation. A corresponding aspirational statement might be: “How might we motivate 100 percent of participants to attain a credential?” These aspirational statements are placed on one axis of the table and broad categories of potential solutions are placed on the other axis. The focus of this exercise is on generating as many ideas as possible and placing them in the appropriate cell in the table.

 

During the first call, SWFI grantees generated the following ideas to increase enrollment:

  • Share client success stories on social media, in community newsletters, or displayed in corridors

  • Offer non-traditional routes for training, either online or self-paced

  • Work directly with employers, enrolling candidates before they enter employment

  • Ensure participants are making a living wage and have access to child care

  • Show strong images of women and participants with children

  • Radio and TV ad campaigns

  • Community fairs

  • Host a BBQ for the community, child care providers, and employers

  • Host events at schools/Head Starts

  • Advertise through chamber of commerce newsletters

  • Conduct outreach in health centers for medical training

  • Go to schools to recruit participants while delivering gas cards

  • Meet with folks who are taking entrance exams

  • Join industry associations to network with industry employers

 

During the second call, SWFI grantees generated the following ideas to increase credential attainment:

  • Provide laptops

  • Ensure that there is reliable technology to facilitate training

  • Suggest websites that assist with studying

  • Online tutoring

  • Access to practice tests

  • Online study groups

  • Profile graduates on social media

  • Create a public forum to track study hours and offer a prize

  • Interactive, Jeopardy-style training programs

  • Host a photo shoot for graduates in their work gear with their children

  • Host monthly graduate and participant support meetings

  • Hold a graduation event with family members and slideshows

  • Have graduates help with recruitment

  • Create mentor relationships with people in the field

  • Graduate assistants help to motivate participants through

  • Provide a job post-training

  • Have community partners/employers talk about value of a credential

  • Get to know participants and situations and let them know they will continue receiving support

  • Financial incentives

 

Innovate Phase: Impact/Effort Matrix

Unlike the creative matrix, where SWFI team members focus on generating as many ideas as possible, the impact/effort matrix is an opportunity to prioritize the strongest ideas and think about their feasibility. The impact/effort matrix draws upon the strongest ideas generated in the creative matrix to determine:

  1. Impact. As a team, rank the set of priority ideas in a horizontal line with the least impactful on the left hand side and the most impactful on the right hand side.

  2. Effort. As a team, rank the ideas vertically based on the perceived level of effort it would take to carry out that idea (preserving the horizontal placement). The bottom of the vertical line reflects the lowest perceived level of effort with the top of the line representing the highest perceived level of effort.

    The team then divides the matrix into four quadrants: high impact-low effort (“quick wins”), low impact-low effort (“can dos”), low impact-high effort (“luxuries”), and high impact-high effort (“long-term strategies”).

    In the first call, grantees prioritized the following ideas to increase enrollment:

Luxuries (low impact, high effort)

  • Radio and TV ad campaigns

Long-term investments (high impact, high effort)

  • Ensure folks are making a living wage and child care

     

  • Work directly with employers – enroll candidates before they enter employment

Can Dos (low impact, low effort)

  • Community fair

     

  • Host events at schools/Head Starts

     

  • Go to schools to recruit participants while delivering gas cards

Quick wins (high impact, low effort)

  • Host a BBQ for community, child care providers, employers

     

  • Share client success stories on social media and community

 

In the second call, grantees prioritized the following ideas to increase credential attainment:

Luxuries (low impact, high effort)

  • None

Long-term investments (high impact, high effort)

  • Have community partners/employers talk about value of a credential

     

  • Provide a job post-training

Can Dos (low impact, low effort)

  • Host monthly graduate & participant support meetings

     

  • Joint classes with incumbent workers and new participants

     

  • Profile graduates on social media

Quick wins (high impact, low effort)

  • Graduate assistants help to motivate participants through

     

  • Financial incentives and supports

 

SWFI grantees can contact their TA coaches for assistance with conducting these activities with their grant teams. Grantees should confirm with their FPO that any identified activities are allowable under their grant.

Further reading: