Urban flood risk is increasing as a consequence of climate change and growing impervious surfaces. Increasing complexity of the urban context, gradual loss of tacit knowledge and decreasing social awareness are at the same time leading to inadequate choices with respect to urban flood risk management (UFRM). The European Flood Risk Directive emphasises the need for non-structural measures aimed at urban resilience and social preparedness. The Three Points Approach (3PA) provides a structure facilitating the decision making processes dealing with UFRM. It helps to accept the complexity of the urban context and promotes transdisciplinarity and multifunctionality. The 3PA introduces three domains wherein water professionals may act and where aspects valued by different stakeholders come into play: (1) technical optimisation, dealing with standards and guidelines for urban drainage systems; (2) spatial planning, making the urban area more resilient to future changing conditions; and (3) day-to-day values, enhancing awareness, acceptance and participation among stakeholders. Based on in-depth interviews conducted in The Netherlands and Denmark, we describe the complexity of decision making in practical UFRM and explain how the 3PA can be used when organising participatory processes. We introduce a theoretical framework characterising the large range of aspects involved in decision making related to UFRM and evaluate the usefulness of the 3PA in dealing with it. We conclude that the 3PA offers water managers and operators an efficient communication tool and thinking system, which helps to reduce complexity to a level suitable when organising strategy plans for UFRM and urban adaptation to climate change.