Firms have different ways of addressing issues emerging from outside their regular calendar-driven strategy processes. These practices tend to be unstructured, organization specific, and highly dependent on the characteristics of the strategic issues themselves. Building on three dimensions of cognitive load-intrinsic, germane, and extraneous cognitive load-we extend existing research on strategic issue management by showing how different team-level choices in strategic issue processing and organizational congestion interact in their effects on a firm's strategic issue management performance. Based on an in-depth analysis of all 92 strategic issue decisions in a large multinational firm during a three-year period, we find that organizational disturbances influence strategic issue initiation by top management, which in turn influences the quality of strategic issue management practices and subsequent performance outcomes. We conclude by providing recommendations for managers on how they can decrease the sensitivity of their companies' strategic issue systems to external disturbances.