The 1:3:1 Approach to Problem Solving How I Encourage My Team to Be Resourceful

April, 5 2020

Have you ever heard of the phrase There’s more than one way to skin a cat? Admittedly, it’s an outdated (and gruesome) saying, but I like the message. To me, it’s about being resourceful and overcoming roadblocks to make sure you can get unstuck, even when no one is available to help.

Now, more than ever, resourcefulness is an important skill for everyone on your team to demonstrate. At Brigade, we use the 1:3:1 Rule to tackle roadblocks in a way that lets us creatively problem solve, and keep going forward.

Step 1: Identify the 1 problem

Identifying may not be as simple as it sounds. For a problem to be clearly defined, you need to consider, “What is the problem from my/our perspective?” And also, “What is the problem from the other perspective?”

Let’s say the answers don’t match. Problems can look different to different stakeholders, especially if there’s disagreement on the cause. One way to get past this stalemate is to consider, “What interests will be satisfied when we find the solution?” This leads to Step 2.

Step 2: Find 3 possible solutions to the 1 problem

Before diving into the solutions, consider the interests at stake. Interests are the needs that we want to be satisfied with any given solution. The best solutions are the ones that satisfy all, or as many interests as possible. This is the time for active listening. Listen with the intent to understand what the interests are.

Once we’re clear and have boiled down the issue to a single problem, I encourage my team to go for it. What ideas do they have for solutions? They do a lot of brainstorming and are encouraged to get creative.

Step 3: Formulate 1 recommendation

This is where I trust my team to be their best, critical-thinking selves. I tell them, consider your three solutions and honestly assess the plusses and minuses. Which is the best option on balance? Is there a way to bundle options together for a more satisfactory solution?

I also expect them to “sell it.” Why? Because I want to make sure the idea gets implemented and not stuck in analysis paralysis.

Bonus benefit: Team growth

We live by the 1:3:1 Rule at Brigade, and it has worked wonders over the years. It helps management make decisions because we’re asking for team input. It helps our team develop because I’m asking them to think out-of-the-box and contribute to the organization in growth-minded and self-directed ways. I highly recommend it.

I’m curious, what do you think about our 1:3:1 Rule? Is it something you might try at your business? Let me know, and let me know what else you’ve been doing to promote team growth