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Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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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)
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I'd give this book 5 stars if they fix the poor usability of their layout design.
-Matt Schwartz, Nonprofit President & CEO
Update: Now that I have finished reading the book, let me explain who I think is this for. If you have been organizing strategic planning MEETINGS, and want these to be more memorable, then this book has many ideas to make them more memorable or effective.
It's hard to create a perfect book, and I appreciated the effort here. I will use some ideas and concepts in future work I do. However, it tells you things you need to consider, and it tells you about what others did, and it tells you what outcomes you are looking for - but it has little in how to actually come up with the non-trivial skills and tasks that are needed to do it. One of the challenges may be that they gained this experience DOING this, not teachings other to LEARN these skills. It shows they are very competent in doing it, and have very good insights and angles, but not so much in practical ways to make you do the hard parts.
The book's biggest shortcomings are:
- Draws a lot from design thinking principles without acknowledging them. Which is fine. And there may be reasons to explain omitting it (I wouldn't want to suggest a CEO that we'll now "Unpack findings", or talk about Feelings, Emotions en Fears to a board either). But a lot of the "black belts" DESIGNING an event/meeting seem to me using methods/tools from DS or related in many important ways (starting with Interviews, and then designing so "designers" UNDERSTAND the problem before doing any "solutioning" (shape choice in the book lingo).
- Requests from the reader to achieve many things. In the end you may end up feeling burdened, too many thing in your head and 70 additional books.
- Lingo. Makes it less clear. Too much lingo. Some of it is clever and helpful. I understand they have to create some language around it. But a large part of it felt forced or unnecessary, including the caste of "Moments of Impact" black belts that is never defined in the book, or elsewhere else.
Final advise: buy it. It will spark ideas, gives a good overview of what it might take to shake things up, and offers plenty of good advise and examples of what others have tried. And the effort into how to organize it is also worth it ("Compass").