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The Strategy Book (1st Edition) Paperback – January 19, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


''This book will help readers tackle the really important challenges they face both in developing strategies and putting them into action."   Consulting Magazine
"A most innovative book. Mckeown genuinely synthesises a broad range of strategic thought into a coherent and actionable process. Mckeown brings together a number of apparently incompatible views to create a rich and powerful three dimensional understanding."  
Marcus Alexander, Adjunct Professor London Business School, Associate Fellow Oxford University, Fellow Ashridge Strategic Management Centre  

“Does exactly what it says on the tin – and does it brilliantly. This book will become a well- thumbed favourite.”

Emma Leech, Director of Marketing - The University of Nottingham


“You can pick it up, read a section, apply what you have learnt and then go back to read some more.”

Sue Toon, Direct of Management Alchemy


“Recommended…contains a vast array of strategic experience, which is pertinent at any level of management.”

Laura Dziaszyk, Director of Corporate Signpost


"The Strategy Book is a must read for anybody interested in systematically exploring strategy in their organization.  It is very readable, jargon-free and of enormous practical significance for planning and implementing strategy."
Prof. Cary L Cooper, CBE, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School


"My God, a strategy book that actually makes sense? Imagine that... Most strategy books are either exercises in waffling and vague generalities, or mind-numbingly boring laundry lists of could-a, would-a, should-a. Max Mckeown's take on strategy is neither, and as an antidote he has given us The Strategy Book, where no-nonsense pragmatism meets imagination and adaptive flexibility. This book reads the way a good strategic plan should – guidance but not dogma, to the point but with an eye open to alternative possibilities. It just might be the cheapest form of strategic insurance ever created."

Professor Alf Rehn, author of Dangerous Ideas, internationally active speaker and consultant 


"The Strategy Book is superb. Quite frankly, it's the best, most relevant book I've read since Porter's early tomes. The author has a wonderful way of encapsulating strategic thinking from almost every angle. Max Mckeown is the next Michael Porter."

John Hall, President, Freedom Health LLC


"Max has a gift to reverse engineer complexity in a way that leaders can truly navigate how to lead their business, their people and their lives with both clarity and confidence. I would say Max is a preeminent map maker of our times."

Jennifer Sertl, President Agility3R and co-author Strategy Leadership & the Soul


‘It’s unusual for a management book to encourage readers to ask uncomfortable questions about their own products, leading to uncomfortable answers, and then to stimulate the inspiration and imagination to address those issues effectively.  Max explains a range of perspectives and tools with admirable clarity.  However, we don’t lose sight of the underlying challenges and risks in strategy development and implementation.  This is a book that disturbs and demystifies in a creatively helpful way.’

Professor David A. Buchanan, Author of Organizational Behaviour, Cranfield University


“Max de-clutters corporate speak and opens up strategy to everyone. His no nonsense approach to corporate strategy will teach you to look at your business like never before. In person, his insight is scalpel sharp and this book is a masterclass in improving your strategic thinking. You will learn to ask the big questions that need to be asked to get the core of strategic success.”

Steve Fortune, Global Leadership Development at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals


‘I love this book. Max Mckeown has the gift of making complex ideas accessible as well as enjoyable. One of the biggest challenges facing organisations today is making strategy come alive – especially with respect to innovation. Max demystifies the strategy process, bringing it to life with great examples. He challenges the reader to really think- as well as have the guts to take action.  With its rich array of strategy tools, this book will help any reader bridge the ‘theory-practice gap’ to produce results which really matter.’

Professor Linda Holbeche, Author of The High Performance Organisation, Centre for Leadership Innovation, University of Bedfordshire


"This book fills a gap in the strategy literature between toolkits, frameworks, implementation and the individual. Max Mckeown provides not only an array of fine examples from a wide range of organizations, but also challenges the reader by presenting strategy as both an everyday performance and as a down to earth art. It is a book which will appeal to practitioners and students alike and it provides a richness and a challenge to the often stultified frameworks which have come to characterise strategy".

Professor David Wilson, Author of Strategy: Analysis & Practice, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick


"Having worked with Max on innovation I had high expectations for The Strategy Book. In short - worth the wait, this is a great and truly helpful book which I fully expect to reference back to for years to come. Max has the ability to articulate clearly the challenges most organisations face in shaping their futures - and with consummate swagger, mixed with real life, powerful examples - guides you through strategic thinking relevant to not only today, but you and the job you do."

Geir Holmer, ex-Virgin Media , Independent Consultant


"After thoroughly enjoying (and benefiting greatly from) The Truth About Innovation, I was anxiously awaiting Max's next winner...and I think it's here! The Strategy Book totally demystifies 'strategy' for us non-MBA-types struggling to keep pace with the growing demands on our creativity and ability to lead from the front everyday...I look forward to this book hitting the shelves as I will be investing in a few copies for my team - material that we will refer to as a working guide to the strategic and planning process...and beyond! Another brilliant one from Max!!!"

Rahim Dawood, Manager, Systems and Technology



"This book is highly recommended reading and also a useful tool for military thinkers. It has a very good structure making it easy to embrace the powerful ideas inside.”

Harri Ohra-aho, Brigadier General of the Finnish Defence Forces


" If you want to become a better strategic thinker, read Max’s new book. Succinct and to-the-point, he captures the essence of strategy. With a passion and style all of his own, he connects insights from leading strategy gurus to successful practices in leading companies.”  

Simon Collinson, Professor of Strategy, Henley Business School


"Max has his very own style of talking strategy - crossing all corporate and conventional boundaries. McKeown continues to walk the talk as a restless contributor for unconventional ideas. Follow the grandmaster of Innovation into new dimensions of strategy for the 21st century. A great book that’s also fun to read."
Jan-Henrik Andersson , Operations Director Metro AG


“I have not read every publication on strategy and now I don’t have to worry about that challenge anymore because I have just finished “The Strategy Book” and I feel confident that I will never find a better book on the subject.  Let me get a little thesaurus-giddy for a moment – superb, excellent, splendid, authoritative, sure-footed, impressive, thorough, accessible, essential, etc, etc.  I think you get the picture….Max McKeown has taken every aspect of strategy, maintained the seriousness of the subject, deconstructed it’s complexities and rebuilt his findings in a practical, no-nonsense way that makes his book unstuffy and easy to read.  It is that rare thing, an academic book that informs and entertains in a universally appealing way….. As you plan and chart your way through life and career, “The Strategy Book” will always be a very good friend to you”.

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From the Back Cover




  • The Strategy Book focuses on how you can create powerful strategies to deliver success in a competitive world. It answers the following questions:
  • What do we know about strategy?
  • What can strategy do for you?
  • How can you effectively use strategy tools?
  • How can you engage people with strategy?
  • How do you avoid pitfalls, problems, and screw-ups?


Using the science of strategy The Strategy Book will help you tackle the really important challenges you face both in developing strategies and putting them into action. Its aim is to give you best ideas wrapped up in a usable, enjoyable package.



'Max Mckeown demystifies the strategy process and challenges the reader to really think and take action.  With its rich array of strategy tools, this book will help bridge the "theory-practice gap" to produce results which really matter.'

Professor Linda Holbeche

Author of The High Performance Organisation,

Centre for Leadership Innovation, University of Bedfordshire


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (January 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0273757091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0273757092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Max Mckeown is a best-selling, award winning author who seeks to make complex ideas practical for the real world. His research focuses on how to increase the successful adaptability of individuals, teams and organizations. He has also has an MBA and Doctorate from Warwick Business School.

Combining cutting edge strategy and management science with pragmatic wisdom, wit and pop culture, he pinpoints how the most resilient people inspire all-important, trust-filled, make-a-difference energy from their people.

He has written six books, including The Strategy Book, The Innovation Book, Adaptability, The Truth About Innovation, and Unshrink The People.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By V Gordon on October 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really excited to receive this book based on all the excellent reviews. First a note personal note is in order. I work with clients to develop strategies for their business. Also, I judge a book by how actionable it is. Can I take the findings and apply them in real world situations using commonsense and a bit of real world experience. This book did not pass that test. In defense of the book, I think this would be hard, if not impossible in a small 234-page book.

I think that if the author would have expanded the "how to" portions of the book he would have an excellent work that could truly be called "The Strategy Book" For an example of what I mean there is a section of the book that my internal dialog went something like this, yes I agree that it is important to be flexible and creative in lookin' at what may happen next in your strategic group (p.107) but can you give me an examples of ways to do this in an organization - maybe some shortcuts that you have learned -perhaps some tools that really get to the nub of what may happen in your strategic group? The book is full of examples like these where the barest hints of what to do are provided. I can't help comparing this book to a few other strategy books like, "Seizing the White Space, Strategic and Competitive Analysis- Methods and Techniques...., Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Failsafe Strategies, -and judging this book as lacking.
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Format: Paperback
Sturgeon's law says that 90% of everything is crap. Count this book in that category.

Absolutely nothing unique or novel in the book. It is just a rehash of a bunch of framework and models. Nothing wrong with most of frameworks presented, but the author just gives the basics, kind of one-pagers of everything, and he presents too many models. For instance: The author does not seem to understand that the BCG matrix can seriously mislead companies into going for scale, when they would have been better off with a niche strategy. Subtleties like that do not get much room in this book. The author is probably a decent motivational speaker for middle management that needs to deal with a bit of everything, but I would not let him into the C-suite.

Do yourself a favour, pick up one of the following books instead to understand strategy:
* Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works is a restatement of Michael Porter's seminal ideas from the 1980s.
* All the Right Moves: A Guide to Crafting Breakthrough Strategy [Hardcover]. The models in that book are simpler than simple, but they are very thoughtful and I would say powerful.
* Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers has a bit more of a check list approach. Also good and I think the preferred choice is a matter of style preference.

There are many books about strategy and most of them are rather bad (and that includes the $200 textbooks).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By sahin tulga on January 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchasing and reading this book has been a great disappointment for me. I have ordered the book after reading numerous positive reviews. Now that I have read the book, it is obvious that the positive reviews have been coming from friends doing favors to the author. First of all, one can see that the author knows the subject well. He included few gems on strategy development that only a seasoned expert would know. However, the contents does nothing to help the reader to feel confident on attacking real-life strategy problems by themselves. It is a collection of headlines with vague content. Obviously, it is a "read it and call me for consultancy work later" type book that we encounter so often. Second, the tool kit which includes a collection of strategy and change management frameworks that are poorly explained. Again, there are no insights for practical use. Purchasing and reading this title has been a lesson for me in not trusting the glamorous reviews.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
'There is nothing more practical than a good theory' said Kurt Zadek Lewin.
Well what's more practical than being model agnostic and rather considering dozens of different clearly explained strategy frameworks and perspectives? a strategic overview of strategy, strategy squared...
Another excellent strike by Max.
Thank you Max also on behalf of my daughter who has amply used your book for her dissertation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts on August 30, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
concise guide to strategy development, easy read. This is a topic that is highly subjective, everyone thinks they know what it is and, therefore, don't need a guide. Try to pin them down and you will find out quickly how little it is understood.
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Format: Paperback
Among Max Mckeown's "Final words" (Page 224) are these: "The principles in this book are based on the advice of the greatest strategic thinkers throughout the centuries and cutting-edge wisdom from the world's leader strategy researchers. Everything has been selected with great care. Each model in the strategist's tool kit is worth understanding and putting into practice." I agree completely. In my opinion, this is one of the three best general sources for strategy, all of which every executive should own and frequently consult.

The other two? Michael Porter's On Competition (Updated and Expanded Edition) and Henry Mintzberg's Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through The Wilds of Strategic Management, one that Mckeown includes in his "Further reading" section.

Mckeown provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel to help his reader achieve strategic objectives such as these, rigorously discussed in Parts 1 and 2:

o Using an appropriate strategy to shape the future to advantage
o Using the same strategy to complete the "shortest route between means and ends"
o Becoming a strategic thinker
o Obtaining broad-based buy-in for that strategy
o Being fully prepared to react effectively as well as anticipate correctly
o Taking prudent risks to "jump" gaps of uncertainty
o Develop strategy within a wide and deep context
o "Knowing where the grass [really] is greener"

In Parts 3-5, Mckeown explains how to achieve strategic objectives of comparable importance and then provides, in Part 6, "The Strategy Tool Kit." In my opinion, the "Tool Kit" material (all by itself) is worth cost of the book. As he explains, "I have chosen a personalised selection of strategy tools.
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