What you could learn from ‘The Strategy Book’ by Max McKeown (2012, 226 pages)


“Strategy is about moving from where you are to where you want to be.  Smart strategy is the shortest route to desirable ends with available means.”

Max McKeown

Strategy, historically a Greek military term (see below), is now used very loosely to describe any plan of action to achieve a long term aim (see here).


Origins of the term strategy (Google)

In The Strategy Book, Max provides clarity on the term strategy, and through the six chapters, he provides tools, tips and techniques to allow you to evaluate where you are and where you want to be, and how to get there.

Part 1 helps you think more strategically so that you can shape your future, rather than being shaped by it.  Great guidance in this chapter is to consider before you plan. Otherwise, you will get the right answer to the wrong problem.

Part 2 gets more granular and equips you with tools to help you think like a strategist, for example by knowing when to take risks, balancing planning and reacting, and knowing when you should move from your current (and probably comfy) position.

Part 3 focuses on strategy creation.  By working your company competes on cost leadership, differentiation or niche you can then compare yourself to your competitors and start forming the building blocks of your new strategy.

Part 4 allows you to take the understanding created in Part 3 and turn it into a competitive advantage.  You are more likely to be successful if you pursue a strategy of innovation, differentiation and avoiding competition.

Part 5 provides the guidance you need to turn your strategy into reality.  By creating processes (not overly bureaucratic) you can ensure that you keep revisiting your strategy and keep up the momentum.

Part 6 list useful frameworks and tools to help you diagnose, align and implement your strategy.  In this chapter there is a compelling list of the most useful and well know frameworks, such as SWOT, Porter’s five forces and BCG’s growth share matrix, of the less well know but no less useful De Wit and Meyer’s strategy tensions and Burgelmand Groves; strategy bet model.  The simplest and most powerful of these is the fundamental strategy questions:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • What changes have to be made?
  • How should these changes be made?
  • How shall we measure progress?

The’The Innovation Book‘  is a fantastic book for all those who lead others and want to lead their teams to success.  Read this book if you want the tools to make a great strategy.