Creating Moments of Impact: Using Sparklines for Strategic Conversations

Resonate is one of my favorite books. As a professor of innovation at the MBA in Design Strategy, I teach its core principles of visual storytelling to all of my graduate students. In today’s complex and noisy world, the ability to tell a compelling and memorable story that influences others to be genuinely excited about your idea is arguably one of the most important leadership skills to master.

Resonate¬†readers learn that standout presentations come from their underlying story narrative perfectly tuned to capture the audience’s frequency of emotion mapped over the duration of the speech. This constitutes the simple brilliance of Duarte’s Sparkline.

But Sparklines aren’t just the secret sauce of great presentations. They are also the foundation for designing powerful strategic conversations. Strategic conversations are creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions focused on tackling a messy, open-ended challenge. They generate novel insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives and lift participants above the fray of daily concerns and narrow self-interest, reconnecting them to their greater, collective purpose. And they lead to deep, lasting changes that can transform an organization’s future.

Like great presentations, we can design these conversations to maximize lasting impact by using a different kind of approach – one that uses both reason and emotion to engage participants and perspectives across organizational boundaries to discover insights and new ideas through a carefully architected shared experience.

Here are five ways to get started:

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Lisa Solomon

Lisa Solomon

Lisa Kay Solomon is the founder of Innovation Studio and teaches innovation at the groundbreaking MBA in Design Strategy program at San Francisco's California College of the Arts. She is coauthor of Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change (Simon & Schuster, 2014), a book that offers a simple creative process to help leaders and teams tackle their most challenging issues. Learn more about Lisa and her work at

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