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

For me, this book turned out to be the perfect reading when I was unsatisfied with the traditional strategic planning process in our dynamic, volatile, and unpredictable world:

Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change
by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon

I found my first insight from this book already in the introduction: We live in a VUCA-world! Until then, I never managed to describe our dynamic environment full of uncertainty and change in less than half a sentence. From now on, I can use just four letters:

VUCA stands for:

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity

Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon make it very clear, what VUCA stands for:

“VUCA world is a bit like an amusement park: it’s full of thrilling rides – just not all of them are fun. It’s a world where stock prices swing wildly from one week to another and entire industries become features in larger ecosystems. A world where new competitors pop up out of nowhere and disruptive technologies wipe out entrenched business models overnight. A world where a political coup or a tsunami on the other side of the planet can disrupt markets in surprising ways. …

In VUCA world, organizations face constant surprises from all directions.

By the time you think you’ve got an important market trend figured out, it’s already moved on.”

The style of the book

This quote is just a little taste of how this book is written. It is insightful, uses a clear and figurative language, and is immediately accessible. Although the content of this book is challenging (since this approach is probably new to the most of us), it is by no means difficult to understand.

Ertel and Solomon provide real world examples based on their long-standing experience when they support their point. Nevertheless, they restrain from packing the book with examples just to fill the pages. I found those examples very helpful to get a better idea of what a particular strategic conversation could look like.

The content of the book

Ertel and Solomon start with the insight that in today’s VUCA-world the majority of management decisions are adaptive challenges, i.e. “messy, open-ended, and ill defined.” Most of our traditional tools for strategy, however, were built for tackling what they call technical challenges, i.e. challenges that “involve applying well-honed skills to well-defined problems. … [They] may be complex, but they can still be resolved within well-understood boundaries.”

As a solution to this mismatch between the nature of our challenges and the capabilities of existing tools, they suggest strategic conversations. These conversations go far beyond the traditional strategic planning meeting, since they enable managers “… to continuously frame and reframe not only their answers but also the questions they pose.”

The book first explains the concept of strategic conversations – what it is, where it came from, and why it matters. It then explains the five core principles of designing a strategic conversation in detail and discusses major hurdles that often get in the way.

When I read through this part of the book, I felt a bit overwhelmed sometimes. Although all this made perfect sense to me, I wondered if I would be able to design a successful strategic conversation by myself. Thankfully, the authors are well aware of this challenge. So they added a Starter Kit “crammed with tools and tips to put the book’s core principles and practice – and rise the quality of your next strategic conversation”

All in all, this book is a highly recommended reading for all those who feel that their traditional strategic toolkit is no longer sufficient to make their way trough today’s VUCA world.

Get this book at
Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change