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

Chris Ertel , Lisa Kay Solomon
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Moments of Impact is a book on a mission: to eradicate time-sucking, energy-depleting workshops and meetings. In our fast-changing world, organizations have important challenges and opportunities to address—and no time to waste. Moments of Impact delivers the single most useful resource for managers and leaders who need better strategic conversation—now—to shape the future of their organizations.

Moments of Impact is an essential guide for ambitious leaders who get assigned the hardest and most vexing strategic issues in their organizations, for entrepreneurs trying to manage board expectations, for social change agents pioneering new business models for community impact, for hopeful educators and healthcare practitioners trying to transform slow-to-change industries, and for enterprising students committed to tackling global challenges.

Drawing on decades of combined experience as innovation strategists, Ertel and Solomon articulate the purpose, principles, and practices of well-designed strategic conversations. They weave together a lively and compelling mix of social science theories and research, interviews with more than 100 thought leaders, organization leaders, and practitioners, as well as dozens of anecdotes and practical cases from diverse organizations. The book also includes a sixty-page Starter Kit with diagnostic questions, best practices, tips and suggestions, and recommended readings to enable you to put the ideas to work immediately.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


"Tightly focused on one particular area of leadership, this is a guide every frustrated meeting-goer should [listen to], with advice they should all implement." ---Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concisely Profound February 20, 2014
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great strategy. Great book. February 26, 2014
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't just read it, Use it 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, insightful and disclosed new spaces for me ...
Great book, insightful and disclosed new spaces for me to explore. Recommended it to friend in the MBA class. Awesome..
Published 6 days ago by Collina Hasalama
5.0 out of 5 stars A holistic approach to strategy development
This book approaches key items that have been usually undervalued for strategic success. It reveals the power of not leaving any key detail behind
Published 7 days ago by Juan Ribero
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, witty, strategic and engaging
I thought this was an excellent book. Super accessible, engaging writing with great examples. Practical advice broken down into simple frameworks to remember things by. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lisa Brooklyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Moments of Imact-The Future of Strategic Conversations
When we think about the amount of time spent in unproductive meetings, Moments of Impact takes the traditional meeting off life support and gives it new possibilties. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Randi E Caplan
1.0 out of 5 stars Low Impact
Bland,obvious and repetitive
Published 4 months ago by Gatters
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great information to add structure to presentations.
Published 5 months ago by Jamison
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative ideas smartly written
Lots of great ideas. Perhaps a little out there for those of us who lead smaller organizations. Overall, relevant and useful.
Published 6 months ago by Kevin G. Wright
3.0 out of 5 stars That's a good introduction to those who is wanting to understand the...
That's a good introduction to those who is wanting to understand the approach. Of course, there is lots of tacity knowled involved which none of books can transfer. Read more
Published 7 months ago by M. Bruno
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for leaders facing strategic challenges and in need...
Moments of Impact is one of those books that stretches your brain - in a very good way. It helps executives, consultants, entrepreneurs and anyone facing a big strategic challenge... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Denise Brosseau
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides a Beautiful Make-Over for Offsite-Gone-Wrong
This is one of those two or three books each year that I read and immediately say, "I wish I had written that. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tim O
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