Moments of Impact (Strategic Conversations) Do Not Happen By Accident; They Need to be Designed – Insight from the book Moments of Impact


Some moments of impact happen unexpectedly. They are a surprise, and they can be life altering.

But, some moments of impact can be “designed.” And that is the key word – such a moment is “designed,” from start to finish. From the place you hold the conversation, to who you invite into the conversation, to the “rules” of engagement in the conversation, these gatherings are ones in which everything matters!   Moments of impact, in other words, do not usually happen by accident. They are carefully planned – designed.

Moments of ImpactThis is the premise of Moments of Impact: How to Design Conversations That Accelerate Change by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon. And they call these moments of impact strategic conversations. From the book:

Starategic conversations are creative and collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to address an adaptive challenge. (Hmm – if only we had some adaptive challenges these days!).

In reading through this book, this simple truth struck me: it is foolish to hold a “planning retreat,” or a ”problem-solving retreat” – one in which you will fly folks in, and carve out a day or more of collaborative time – without actually preparing in the smartest and most thorough way possible for such a gathering.

In other words, considering all the person-hours to be spent in that room, you should probably invest quite a few hours beforehand not just preparing the “agenda,” but also designing the entire process that you want to make happen.

The authors warn against the foolishness of just “expecting” a strategic conversation to happen. Full agreement here — and I think that reading this book is a very good place to start.

Over recent years, we’ve had plenty of reminders that conversations create the future. Books like Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, & McMillan, and Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, have provided part of my education in these matters. Here’s what I have learned – and experienced: the right conversations can be magical; the wrong conversations can be deadening. And the conversations that never happened (those needed-though-avoided conversations) can have such negative ripple effects that there may never be any salvaging done after such damage.

In this book, after reminding us of the VUCA world we now live in — volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (I first read about this in Get There Early by Bob Johansen) — the authors call for a well-designed strategic conversations process.   This process revolves around five core principles (again, from the book)

Core principle #1 — Define Your Purpose
Core principle #2 – Engage Multiple Perspectives
Core principle #3 – Frame the Issues
Core principle #4 – Set The Scene
Core principle #5 – Make It An Experience

A well-designed strategic conversation is different than a well-organized meeting (from the book - click on image for full view)
A well-designed strategic conversation is different than a well-organized meeting (from the book – click on image for full view)

Of course, they flesh out these core principles, and provide a clear process to follow to help you design your own strategic conversations.

This book has plenty to say about how to approach many conversations throughout your work life, but I would call this a must-read before you plan one of those “we’ve really got to deal with this stuff” retreat-length meetings.

Advertisements

One thought on “Moments of Impact (Strategic Conversations) Do Not Happen By Accident; They Need to be Designed – Insight from the book Moments of Impact

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s