Partnership-Building Exercises

There are many types of group exercises that can help improve partnerships. Several are presented on this page, customized for counter-trafficking collaborations.
Role Play
Group role plays helps expand participants’ understanding of the challenges and constraints faced by others, and it can result in greater empathy. Role play scenarios can also help generate innovative strategies and solutions to complex problems. Lastly, for the purposes of surfacing and addressing sensitive or contentious subjects, role play scenarios can sometimes be more constructive than direct discussion. The other suggested exercises involve direct discussions, it may work best to try a role play first. While no single exercise can save the life of a doomed collaboration, they are a type of tool that can help partnering organizations create a good foundation for working together, or navigate through a rough patch.

Role Play Scenarios

Role Play Scenario #1. Aim: Foster understanding of each sector. Participants: 3 or more people

Preparation: Assign each participant a sector to represent (various levels and branches of law enforcement and government agencies; various types of nonprofits including general and specialized victim service providers, mobilization and advocacy NGO, immigrant community organization, community policing organization, faith-based organization, donor/foundation; private sector entities including small, medium, and large companies, industry association; youth and education leaders including K-12 and higher education, youth services; and survivor-activists.

Tasks: Assign the group one of the following tasks, or make up your own, and have the group figure out who can (or must) do what to accomplish the task:

  • Get anti-trafficking signage posted in all the state rest areas.
  • Persuade city council to adopt and enforce a slavery-free procurement system for city purchases.
  • Train all hotel and transportation company employees in the city on how to identify trafficking victims.
  • Eliminate forced labor from nail salons in the city.

Role Play Scenario #2. Aim: Foster understanding of trafficking investigations and prosecution. Participants: 3 or more people.

Preparation: Assign individuals to roles from the following list:

  • City police detective
  • County sheriff
  • FBI agent
  • County prosecutor
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney
  • NGO-based victim advocate or service provider

Tasks: Assign the group one or more cases from the following list:

  • An ad appears online requesting sex from a “hot young teen.”
  • A boy is arrested by street cop for possessing cocaine. When questioned about how he has the $$ to buy coke he says he has been pimped out in three states.
  • The National HT Hotline forwards a credible tip that some kitchen staff at a Thai restaurant in the city had their passports confiscated by the restaurant owner.
  • Someone from a nearby suburb calls 911 reporting that a non-English speaking female is confined indoors in the house next door.

The group will then discuss the following questions:

  • What are the challenges of investigating trafficking cases for local (municipal/county-level) law enforcement agencies?
  • What are the challenges for federal law enforcement agencies?
  • What makes collaboration between local and federal LE difficult?
  • How should investigators and prosecutors work together, and what makes that challenging?

Role Play Scenario #3. Aim: Foster understanding of victim services provision. Participants: 3 or more people.

Preparation: Assign people roles from the following list:

  • Victim specialist employed by law enforcement
  • General victim services
  • Specialized victim service providers
  • Youth advocacy organization
  • Domestic violence shelter.
  • Immigration advocacy group
  • County mental health agency.

Tasks: Choose one or more tasks from the following list. For the task given, discuss (1) how different roles would play a role in that task, and (2) how they might productively interact with each other.

  • Double the capacity for wraparound victim services including housing in the city, to prepare for a large influx of victims expected in a month.
  • Create a multi-lingual translation network that is competent to help with trafficking victims.
  • Create a mental health provider network that is competent to help with trafficking victims.

Discussion exercises

Values Exercise. Brainstorm a jointly viewable list of at least ten values that are relevant to anti-trafficking efforts. Have each person rank their top three or four values, after which each individual will present their ranked list to the group with a brief explanation of the ranking. If time and resources permit, use an online tag cloud tool to create the ranked lists, and enter demographic data such as sector, profession, gender, race/ethnicity, and religion. Create and display multiple views of the digital tag cloud using ranked values crossed with any of the demographic data.

Develop a Process for Collective Decision-Making. Use the “Stages of Discussion Model” (from page 221 in David Straus’s (2002) book How to Make Collaboration Work) as a basis for jointly planning how you will move from ideas to action.

Going Deeper. Select a moderator to facilitate a semi-structured conversation about how partner’s personal attributes, background, values, and beliefs, as well as the aims, resources, and constraints of his or her organization or sector affect how they engage in collaborating against human trafficking.

Develop a Set of Communication Standards. Using the “rules for engagement” example from a multisector task force presented in Chapter 6, jointly craft an agreement on how communication within and between meetings will take place, what will be the norms for interaction and information sharing, and what processes to use for simple and complex conflict resolution. Include when and how these elements will be re-evaluated. Refer to the Good Books section below for help.