I recently received a New Client Questionnaire that was extraordinary.

Of course, most of them are extraordinary.  Only people who are passionate about their business and motivated to make it work will take the time to thoughtfully complete it.

This one was extraordinary because it included responses from several people, not just the Chairman, CEO, professional or marketing manager.  This one included several answers to each question, with insights from the product developers to the sales guys to the CEO.

We all know that the busier a person is, the more critical their input is likely to be to a particular endeavor. (I think this is a corollary to Murphy’s Law.)

I asked the marketing manager how she had managed to collect so much information from so many people in such a short time,  and she shared her brilliant technique.

Step One – Reserve a conference room with a big whiteboard.

Step Two – Section the whiteboard into one section for each question, and write the question at the top of the section. (Particularly difficult questions from the New Client Questionnaire – What are the five most important things for us to know about your clientele? and What has changed most in your customer’s lives and behaviors over the last five years?)

Step Three – Buy a pizza. This step is critical (although I hear that doughnuts may work just as well in some offices.)

Step Four – Send an email to the key stakeholders, the list of questions to which you need their input  (ideally not more than five questions)  and conclude with a paragraph like this:

I am in <<Conference Room B>> this afternoon with a large pepperoni pizza with extra cheese.  There is a slice reserved for you.  the price of admission to Conference Room B is your input to your choice any three of the questions above written on yellow sticky notes.  (One per question.)

Bring your sticky notes while the pizza is still hot!

Try this with any business problem – I bet it will work better than any round of meetings, circulation of memos, or volley of emails.

Do you have a trick for getting input and collaboration from very busy people?  We’d love to hear about it!document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);.