1-2-4-All Inclusive Meeting Design

An easy way to engage everyone in a meeting in a matter of a few minutes is a technique called 1-2-4-All. Far superior to brainstorming, 1-2-4-All is a piece of cake to facilitate and takes fifteen minutes at most.

How it Works

Here is the way it works. The facilitator poses a creative question on an issue of concern to the group. For example, “How might we be the safest workplace in our city in the coming year?” or “What top three priorities should our business plan address in the next six months?”  Individuals take one minute to list ideas on a piece of paper. Then, in pairs, each person quickly shares his or her ideas (two minutes).  They notice similarities and patterns and strengthen their combined ideas.  Next, pairs combine into groups of four to share, compare, and coalesce ideas in four minutes.  The final stage is a plenary session:  the “All” in 1-2-4-All. Each group of four shares one key idea with the whole group, popcorn style, avoiding duplication. The results are recorded for all to see on large post-it notes or a whiteboard.

Quick Results

In fifteen to twenty minutes, 1-2-4-All harvests the collective wisdom of a group with everyone’s participation.  In a short time, 1-2-4-All generates energy, excitement, and engagement. Unlike groups in which someone drones on and on, or a hearing in which people give two-minute speeches, the results from 1-2-4-All are wildly democratic. No one sits quietly unless they ask to pass. The group is set free to create and innovate. It’s cool.

Better Than Brainstorming

I use 1-2-4-All all the time when facilitating meetings. In contrast to brainstorming, which can favor the verbose and aggressive, 1-2-4-All is fundamentally inclusive. Ever voice has power. Every voice and perspective gets in on the game. Even the shy or the culturally less dominate share ideas.

More Meeting Facilitation Ideas

For more ideas on how to empower every voice and perspective in your group or organization, check out my website at www.civicreinventions.com. Drop me an email mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com on a meeting issue that plagues you. I will be in touch.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions, Inc. (www.civicreinventions.com). All rights reserved. For permission to distribute copies of this article in any form, contact: mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com.