What's the Best Technique for Rapid Problem Solving?

Sometimes problems need a solution at speed, and there's a fantastic technique which will deliver the results.

Sometimes, you encounter a problem which needs to be solved as soon as possible. The best way to find a solution to an issue is by generating ideas, and the more you have, the better. There's a brilliant technique I want to share which gets your team thinking, and once you have a large range of options in front of you, it becomes easier to choose the best solution or amalgamate two or more suggestions.

The technique is called the 1-2-4 Method and it works like this. You must first set out exactly what the issue is in as much detail as possible, then ask people to spend five minutes reflecting on it individually and jotting down possible solutions.

Next, ask them to pair up with one other person in the room. Have them discuss their ideas, flesh them out and rule out anything completely unworkable. Get them to spend five minutes together, then ask them to move on to another person and repeat the process. By talking to other people, they may be able to work out an actionable plan.

Finally, get each pair to join up with another pair to make a group of four. Now ask them each to bring forward what they believe to be the best idea from the previous rounds. By the end, you'll have four ideas from each group – if some of them overlap, even better, because it goes to show it's a more popular and probably more effective solution.

1-2-4 is a great way of generating ideas at speed and means everyone has a say on how to move forward.


Individuals jot down their own ideas
People partner up to discuss their thoughts
Pairs join together to come up with the best solutions