Chess Not Checkers
Elevate Your Leadership Game
By Mark Miller
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Final Release Date: April 2015
Pages: 144

As organizations grow in volume and complexity, the demands on leadership change. The same old moves won't cut it any more. In Chess Not Checkers , Mark Miller tells the story of Blake Brown, newly appointed CEO of a company troubled by poor performance and low morale. Nothing Blake learned from his previous roles seems to help him deal with the issues he now faces. The problem, his new mentor points out, is Blake is playing the wrong game.

The early days of an organization are like checkers: a quickly played game with mostly interchangeable pieces. Everybody, the leader included, does a little bit of everything; the pace is frenetic. But as the organization expands, you can't just keep jumping from activity to activity. You have to think strategically, plan ahead, and leverage every employee's specific talents—that's chess. Leaders who continue to play checkers when the name of the game is chess lose.

On his journey, Blake learns four essential strategies from the game of chess that transform his leadership and his organization. The result: unprecedented performance!

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oreillyChess Not Checkers

(based on 3 reviews)

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Pretty nice, but seemingly short

By Chamomile drinker

from Hk

About Me Developer, Sys Admin

Verified Buyer

Comments about oreilly Chess Not Checkers:

Having read "Phoenix Project", I was certainly enthusiastic on seeing how a company can rise from the ashes, so to speak. Like the "Phoenix Project", I pretty much finished it in a week.

"Chess, not checkers" is certainly an interesting metaphor. Actually, it's a good metaphor for basically running a company with a set of rules which no longer apply, especially when the market has changed the rules and/or playing field.

This book tells a story of how a newly appointed CEO turns a company around. Pretty much like what happened in the "Phoenix Project.

Unlike the "Phoenix Project", this book seemed short in the sense that it glossed over a lot of details of how non-executive level employees were handling the changes throughout the whole book. Mainly a straight-out telling of what each department accomplished through the department's executive. This story seemed to revolve around the executive level and their actions and reactions to each challenge.
Given that this is a book on leadership, I suppose it makes sense to just concentrate on the execs.

Despite the lack of indepth workings within the company, and having a similar plot to the "Phoenix Project", I still enjoyed this book.

Now I am hoping someone can write a book that actually tells how a newly appointed CEO can turn a company around with just his/her own wits (no mentors) and with the help of his/her Executive members.


Get it from the local library - not worth the money


from Boston MA

About Me Sys Admin

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    • Not comprehensive enough
    • Too basic

    Best Uses

    • Novice

    Comments about oreilly Chess Not Checkers:

    The "lessons" of this book book are communicated via a hokey story - which I found to interfere with the message. Also, the presentation of the lessons within that story is unremarkable.

    If you're interested in this book, get it from a local library for your first read. If you like it, buy it when it's on sale. I got it on special and I wish I'd just grabbed a library copy.

    The points in the book are reasonably interesting, so I'm awarding a second star based on that.


    Very easy reading. Couldn't put it down.

    By Richard

    from Sheffield, UK

    About Me Developer

    Verified Buyer



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        • Intermediate

        Comments about oreilly Chess Not Checkers:

        I found this book very easy to read. It's like one of those films where you get to the end and don't seem to have seen where the time went as you are so absorbed. The story telling method used by the book is a great way to illustrate and get the points across.

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        Ebook:  $22.95
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