The balloon exercise
This exercise also starts with the group identifying a problem,
this time it should be written in the left hand corner of the paper or board.
Then, instead of asking the causes of the problem, participants should reflect
on one or more consequences resulting from it. For each of the consequences they
should draw a balloon and link it to the first. They continue looking for
consequences of each of the consequences they have written, and link these with
a chain of balloons. Finally, they should reflect on where the chain of negative
consequences can be broken, and indicate these as in the diagram on the next
This exercise can be done by the large group together with the
facilitator writing down what participants say, or it can be done in small
groups of three or four participants, with each group coming up with their own
analysis of the problem and their own proposed solutions. After they have spent
some time on this exercise, the small groups can reconvene and share their
balloon chains with each other.
Now that many solutions to the problem have been proposed by the
group, the facilitator can list them all so the group can decide on the
feasibility of each one and propose a course of action.
For non-literate groups, you might use balloons cut out of paper
beforehand and masking tape to stick them on the wall as the consequences of the
problem are discovered by the group. Ask participants to draw a symbol that
stands for each consequence on the balloons as they are mounted on the wall. A
group artist will likely emerge, amid much laughter. As the diagram on the wall
gets more complex, be sure the participants remember the symbols they have
chosen so that they can "read" the diagram after it is finished and find
appropriate places to break the chain of negative effects.
Adapted from Lyra Srinivasan's
Practical Ways of Involving