A multipurpose, engaging meeting structure that makes use of the multiple personal perspectives of team members and comes up with a shared view on the meeting subject. 124ALL is the “Swiss Army Knife” of Meeting structures. It can be combined with a lot of other meeting structures, for example, a vote on alternatives at the end of the meeting etc.
124 All stands for the time used per step: 1 minute alone, 2 minutes in pairs, 4 minuted in foursomes, 5 minutes with the whole group.
- getting a holistic view on a subject matter
- generating ideas
- Getting people to talk in a quasi-private setting
- Getting people to take other people perspectives
No preparation needed, but it is better to have enough space for people to engage in pairs and groups of four: An open space without tables and just chairs is best.
Advice: Use strict time boxing. Set a stopwatch and have a bell announcing the end of a round.
How it is done
- Ask a question to the whole group. That can be about A. a presentation of an issue or B. about a problem to resolve or C. a proposal put forward
- e.g., What opportunities do YOU see for making progress on this challenge? How would you handle this situation? What ideas or actions do you recommend?
- Gather in groups of four people
- Silent self-reflection by individuals (1 min)
- Generate ideas in pairs, building on ideas from self-reflection (2 min)
- Share and develop ideas from your pair in foursomes: Notice similarities and differences (4 min)
- Share with the whole group “What is one idea that stood out in your conversation?” Each group shares one important idea with all (repeat cycle as needed). 5 min
- E.g., if 5 Groups are there each group has a minute to share its key idea
Follow it up by…
- diving deeper into the subject (through a discussion or brainstorming, for example)
- voting on alternatives
- another round of 124ALL framed with a different question
Why it works
124ALL ensures that everyone speaks up, and not used the usual extroverted or powerful share their points
- Engage every individual in searching for answers
- Avoid overhelping and the overcontrol-dependency vicious cycle
- Create safe spaces for expression, diminish power differentials
- Express “silent” conversations and expand the diversity of inputs
- Enrich the quality of observations and insights before an expression
- Graphically record insights as they emerge from groups, for example on a flip chart (or best via sketch notes on a white wall)
- Use Post-it notes to write down ideas in Pair Discussions and foursome groups
- Insert an additional step with a group of 8 people before going to the whole group. This variation increases group consensus
Advice: Plan how you will follow up the results of 124ALL. If you neglect the follow-up the exercise will often feel empty: Just talk and warm air…
Keith Candles and Henri Lachmanovic, Liberated Structures.
Liberated Structures description of 124 ALL
With all the time that we spend in meetings: Ain’t it amazing how uninventive most of the business world is structuring how people sit down together and do meetings?
The guys of Liberating structures, Keith Candles & Henri Lachmanovic, make a living of educating people about meeting structures. A worthy mission!