1-2-4 or 1-3-6

Are you looking for a new way to gather information for a team (or group)?  1-2-4 is a Liberating Structure that allows many people to quickly collaborate and identify the most important ideas or questions.

Some of the benefits of using 1-2-4 in place of a large group (or even table discussions) are:

  • Many people are talking at the same time which leads to higher engagement.
  • It is energizing because people must move around.
  • Only the best ideas/questions get surfaced and a smaller number of items are more manageable.
  • The ideas or questions that emerge are interesting/valuable to numerous people.

Below are several examples of times that it would be useful to incorporate 1-2-4 into your sessions:

  • A senior leader or a stakeholder is speaking to your group, use 1-2-4 to gather questions to ask the speaker.
  • The group is brainstorming ideas for a project.
  • You want to gather key insights at the end of a training program.
  • The team is collecting issues or obstacles related to a project or task.
Instructions:
  1. Give each person an index card or a sticky note.
  2. Invite them to write down a response to a question. (1 minute)
  3. Ask them to pair up with someone else in the room.  Then, with their partner they have 1 minute to share what they wrote and choose one response. (1-2 minutes)
  4. Ask the pairs to partner up with another pair and  share their responses to narrow it down to one response for the foursome. (1 minute)
  5. Each foursome reports their top response.
  6. Next, you can do a number of things with the responses depending upon the objective of this engagement.  For example:
    1. Group and sort the responses (if there were more than 5 foursomes).
    2. If you are collecting questions, ask the questions.
    3. If you are collecting ideas, discuss them.
Variations:
  1. Instead of 1-2-4, try 1-3-6 depending upon the number of people.
  2. If you are tight on time, do a 1-“table group” (up to 6 people).
  3. Take it another step, do 1-2-4-8 for a very large group to narrow the top responses even more.
Summary: 

1-2-4 is a Liberating Structure that can be used any time you want to gather information.  You’ll get people moving and talking as they quickly collaborate to select the best questions or ideas.

About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing. Learn about her Better Teams Model and Team Assessment here.

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