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Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change Kindle Edition

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Length: 273 pages
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Editorial Reviews

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In this book about meetings—and designing them for productivity and impact—Ertel and Solomon have crafted a compelling methodology to making critical decisions in any company. Specifically, their dialogues are focused on who we are, where we’re going, and how we will get there. In so doing, they transform the “OMG, not another two-day session” thinking into a time to truly ponder and shape the future. The construct, on the surface, is simple: five principles (all of which have to be present) must be incorporated, from defining the purpose and engaging multiple perspectives to frame issues, setting the scene, and making it an experience. More telling are the all-too-vibrant case histories of companies that have experienced the doom loop, such as Flip Video (after its acquisition by Cisco Systems) and Encyclopaedia Britannica, damaged by Wikipedia and other competitors. The authors do a darn good job of stepping readers through the process (especially since there is a starter kit included), but they also make the text a bit more complicated and meandering than needed. --Barbara Jacobs


Strategy is one of the most over-used, poorly understood words in the business lexicon. Ertel and Solomon set out to make it meaningful again, drawing on decades of experience running real strategic conversations. (Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus)

If you are even remotely interested in 1) having a team that knows what each other is doing, 2) delivering a complex message in a clear way, 3) making sense of the mania that passes for so much of "business thinking" these days, you must read this book. (Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin and Blah Blah Blah)

Solomon and Ertel get it. We need to move beyond the blah blah blah dominating our meeting rooms today. We need strategic conversations - this book shows you how to design them. (Alexander Osterwalder, author of Business Model Generation and Business Model You)

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I say that’s also a pretty good definition of the typical business meeting. If you’d like to short-circuit the meeting loop and energize your team’s ability to solve real problems and create new visions, then Moments of Impact is the book you need. (Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and Drive)

So many times organizations go to the outside to develop and refine their strategic plans when the answers lie internally. Moments of Impact gives you a roadmap to unlock solutions that are literally in the room. It provides powerful examples and a step by step guide to creating intense engagement and encourages diverse and unique points of view. This leads to a powerful shared vision and strategic plan coupled with a pragmatic execution plan. And, as a bonus, it is a great bonding experience for all involved. (George Borst, CEO of Toyota Financial Services)

What if conversations at work actually mattered? Moments of Impact shows how they can, offering an actionable model for sparking creativity and driving change. (Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take)

Conversations are how groups of people lear, collaborate and act together, but having powerful, coherent and strategic conversations takes active design and support. Chris Ertel and Lisa Solomon collaborators of mine for many years have provided a practical and insightful guide to shaping consequential strategic conversations. A must read for anyone shaping the decision environment of an organization. (Peter Schwartz, author of The Art of the Long View and co-founder of GBN)

Stories ignite understanding and engagement on our most important strategic challenges. Moments of Impact reveals how to go beyond data-driven meetings to generate new insights that help change our world for the better. (Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design, author of Resonate and Slide:ology)

We've seen how the power of design can radically change experiences for the better. Moments of Impact shows how design can transform our strategic conversations, too. (Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit)

“…this is a guide every frustrated meeting-goer should read, with advice they should all implement.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Ertel and Solomon articulate the purpose, principles and practices of well-designed strategic conversations and support their ideas with a lively, convincing mix of social science theories and research, interviews with organizational leaders, anecdotes and case studies, and an invaluable 60-page Starter Kit…to enable you to put the ideas to work immediately.” (Success Magazine)

“Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon provide several useful tools for making sure all voices are heard--and empathized with--at strategy meetings. You can apply many of their tips to general meetings as well. Refreshingly, Ertel and Solomon remind readers that diversity comes in many forms--all of which are important in business settings.” (

Product Details

  • File Size: 4492 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: February 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DPM7YE0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,949 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jarod Holtz on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There are two types of challenges in our world: 1) Technical Challenges that, however complex and difficult, can be solved using well-honed skills applied to well-defined problems; and 2) Adaptive Challenges that are tangled, poorly defined, open-ended and call for a host of different skills and approaches that are rarely transparent. Which type do you think are the easiest, most straightforward, and intuitive for humans to approach and solve – especially in an organizational setting?

In this volatile, uncertain, seemingly chaotic moment in history making good strategic choices requires harnessing smart people, with different perspectives, in a disciplined but creative way. "Moments of Impact" seems to be the manual for designing collaborative conversations to tackle those seemingly impossible adaptive challenges that by their very nature require much more than a solitary genius searching for a silver bullet in an armory.

Luckily the authors embrace what seems to be a new paradigm for writing brilliant books of consequence which in the past would often require a semester-worth of studying to truly grok. From the table of contents to the chapter summaries and the carefully crafted core principles this design allows for the reader to engage different topics, at multiple levels of detail, and at their pace. For example, the 60 page “starter kit” is a perfect synopsis of how to design a strategic conversation and it’s a quick read. If you can’t find a few hours for it, then you’re probably not interested in strategic conversations that will really work.

A concise but profound read that will change the way you think and act in your efforts related to strategic conversations.
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Format: Hardcover
There are times when all of us find ourselves involved in especially important, usually complicated, and perhaps even upsetting situations, situations that have serious implications and potential consequences. An offsite strategy retreat, for example, or an onsite meeting to formulate a budget, or a free-wheeling brainstorming session to generate ideas to develop, answers to questions or solutions to problems. These and other situations have strategic significance and require careful preparation for what Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon characterize as "moments of impact."

They cite an excellent example in 2012 when Neil Grimmer, co-founder and CEO of Plum Organics (a baby food company launched in 2007), believed that his company had reached an inflection point. The details are best revealed in the book but, for present purposes, I can reveal that teams were assigned to complete a war-gaming exercise that would recommend a course of action based on the teams' research. They produced a plan that would enable Plum to dominate the organic baby-food market by capturing "both the higher and lower ends with a one-two punch, using separate brands but the same supply chain and distribution networks."

It is possible but highly unlikely that a traditional approach would have succeeded. According to Keith Sawyer, "Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas," as the two Plum Groups did. As Ertel and Solomon explain, "A strategic conversation doesn't feel like a regular or a brainstorming session. It is its own distinct type: an interactive strategic problem-soling session that engages participants not just analytically but creatively and emotionally.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Lockwood on February 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big believer in strategic conversations, and this book hits the nail on the head. If fact, I've come to think that the lack of true, meaningful, strategic conversations in business may be one of the greatest obstacles any business faces. This book addresses this important leadership skill directly.

I appreciate the way the authors have laid out the steps in creating, managing, and leveraging strategic conversations. Much like design thinking methodologies, they propose very simple, relevant and easy to adopt methods. I particularly like the last section, called "Starter Kit", where the authors give very succinct suggestions for each step in the process, framed around "ask this", "do this" and "try this". I think this simple guideline will be very helpful. I would also like to note that the visual design and information architecture of this book is very well done. Therefore I would recommend this book to any business leader who wants to not only solve problems, but to solve the right problems. Great strategy. Great book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven Weber on February 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Moving people from point A to point B in their thinking is probably the most important activity human beings engage in.
I've tried to learn how to do that better from the scientists, who have a set of abstract arguments about human nature and communication and persuasion ; and from the 'magicians', who just seem to know intuitively how to do it, and continually surprise me with just how good they are.

I've often wondered if someone could synthesize those two perspectives and make the results accessible to and usable by normal people like me, who are just trying to get better at it, and enjoy the process more.

Chris Ertel and Lisa Solomon have done it. This is a wonderful book that is a pleasure to read and from which just about everyone will learn, but that's not the point. The point is to use it.
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