Ben Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The 1-2-3 approach reminds leaders to involve their team when making important decisions. Every leader can develop a more effective and efficient team by asking three simple questions.
1-2-3 is a process that promotes teamwork and helps you lead your organization to consistently better results. It works like this:
(a) Ask three questions before making a decision:
- Who can help me make a better decision?
- Who will have to carry it out?
- Who will be impacted by it? And,
(b) Involve those people in making the decision as appropriate.
Who should use 1-2-3?
A 1-2-3 approach to decision-making is not something that is reserved to top or middle managers or supervisors.
It is a process that can and should be used by everyone in an organization from the person in the corner office to the people on the front line when situations call for it.
When should 1-2-3 be used?
When 1-2-3 should be used is a little bit trickier question.
A 1-2-3 approach obviously isn’t necessary for routine decisions required in the course of day-to-day business.
Nor is it a good approach when following set procedures, regardless of what kind of business you are involved in.
In general, the more significant a decision is or the broader its impact, the more it calls for 1-2-3.
But sometimes even the most significant decisions do not lend themselves to a 1-2-3 approach for any number of reasons.
For example, if the owner of a company is considering selling the business, or if he or she is approached with an offer to buy another company discussions about a possible sale or purchase must be limited.
In fact, in these types of situations, non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements usually will restrict disclosure of information about them to people with a “need to know” because of the sensitive nature of the subjects and the risks of the information being made public prematurely.
How should 1-2-3 be used?
1-2-3 is not a process that you pull off the shelf and dust off for use every once in a while. Rather it should be part of your organization’s culture and used often and in a variety of situations.
When a change, idea, opportunity or problem facing you is “big”, it is best to engage your team over a period of time through a series of meetings.
A good 4-step approach is to:
- Start with a meeting to expose your team to the change, idea, opportunity or problem and then give them some time to let the information “incubate”;
- Pull them together again and ask for and record their input about things to consider and what decision to make;
- Frame a decision and meet with your team to review, help “tweak” and “buy in” to the decision; and
- Have the team review the “final” decision to see if there are any more ideas for improving it.
And don’t forget to include customers and suppliers in the 1-2-3 process when it makes sense. Many times their input/feedback is important as you consider adding new services or goods to your product mix, make changes in your operating schedules, or change how your organization provides services, etc.
Ben Franklin was right, everyone learns when you involve your team in the decision-making process.
What important decision can you make today using the 1-2-3 decision-making process?