A friend of mine was telling me about her chicken soup. Or rather, the process of making it. It’s long and involved, and includes things like soaking the chicken in cold water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for one hour before cooking it for 24.

She cooks the soup in a monstrous stainless pot big enough for two chickens at a time, three if they’re small. No one, I’m convinced, can eat that much chicken soup, which is why my friend stockpiles freezes it, both the soup and many, many jars of stock.

I asked her if this wasn’t just a big, old pain. And she said the only annoyance is the transferring of the stock into Ball jars. It splashes over the sides, no matter what kind of ladle she uses, and a direct pour from the massive cauldron to the little jar is an impossibility.

As smart as she is, she’s missing the key tool. What she needs is a funnel. It will take the hugeness and neatly siphon it down to smallness and definition. No side splashing necessary.

When companies set out to build a meeting, the idea starts big and must get small. So must the content. So must the design choices. And so must the number of decision makers.

Meetings are often planned by committee —committees comprised of many stakeholders. Either in the form of brands represented, different management levels and/or the attendees themselves.

And this is critical. We need variety, opposing views, wide perspectives.

But if the stakeholders are the pot, and the meeting is the jar…we’re in trouble. Too many stakeholders can’t pile into the jar. They will spill and overflow.  They will need a funnel. Even if it’s of the intangible, framework variety:

  1. Gather input from the greater group.
  2. Reduce the group size.
  3. Compile input and find common themes (and a smaller list).
  4. Define and refine the new list.
  5. Reduce the group size, again.
  6. Distill the choices.
  7. Make the decision.
  8. Close the loop by presenting the decision to the greater group, show them their work as a finished product and explain the process of selection.

This gives you many things. Team ownership. Efficiency. Actual decisions. And chicken soup in the jar…not all over the kitchen.

– See more at: http://web.archive.org/web/20150911135953/http://rethinkyourmeeting.com/keep-it-in-the-jar/#sthash.B6vUUCYG.dpuf

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