Book Review: Moments of Impact

As many of us find ourselves in a constant grind of meeting overload, Lisa Kay Solomon and Chris Ertel’s book, Moments of Impact offers some relief.  On a mission to “eradicate as many time-sucking, energy-depleting strategy meetings as possible – and replace them with inspiring and productive strategic conversations”, the authors add an important new tool to the strategy meeting toolkit.  If you are a leader or someone who helps leaders design retreats, meetings, or important dialogues, then “Moments of Impact” is a book we recommend.

Soloman and Ertel help us to understand that leaders of today need more than just standard meeting or brainstorming session skills, they need capabilities for creating strategic conversations. Below, are some of the distinctions that Solomon and Ertel offer that especially resonate with us:

  1. Moments of Impact brings to the surface the environment we lead in today. The authors share how “military planners (among others) – call it VUCA World – an environment of non-stop volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.” This means that more of the issues we face are adaptive challenges whereby technical answers alone no longer suffice. Leaders must now be able to help groups dialogue to “achieve new levels of clarity and coherence about their adaptive challenge – and help teams toward deeper levels of shared commitment and understanding.”
  2. Moments of Impact is actionable and practical. The book takes a deep dive on the five key principles of a strategic conversation: define the purpose, engage multiple perspectives, frame the issues, set the scene, and make it an experience. The next time you have a big strategic meeting or retreat you are in charge of, reach for this book. Its resource rich 60-page toolkit provides an overview for each of the five principles including key questions to ask yourself, action steps, tips to try, and book resources related to each principle.
  3. Moments of Impact reminds us all that skills that are often considered ‘soft’ or yin in quality are actually what today’s world needs. The authors draw on not only their own experience of helping leaders design strategic conversations but also interviewed more than 100 people who are skilled at strategic conversations. From the rich examples offered, the authors advise us that as designers of strategic conversations, it’s our job “to help nurture the patience that’s required for the group to develop their insights before they start taking action” and that we need to “go slow to go fast”. As experts in this area, Solomon and Ertl offer, “we prefer to leave a session with both strong alignment and next steps. But if we had to choose one over the other, we’d choose alignment every time.” Recognizing the importance of alignment over speed is a significant mind-set shift in today’s fast-paced world and a message we appreciate the authors calling out.

Moments of Impact ultimately highlights the tremendous impact we can have in our organizations by bringing a greater intentionality to our meetings and retreats with others as we seek to solve some of the most critical challenges and questions our organizations face today.

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