Summary of Chess Not Checkers

Elevate Your Leadership Game

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Chess Not Checkers book summary
Small firms can play checkers, but to grow and handle more complex business, they need to switch to chess.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Most start-ups are small and easy to manage. They require minimal delegation; their leaders can handle most important tasks. While these firms are new, they can make simple, direct operational moves. They can play checkers – a surface-level, tactical game. But as they grow, their corporate life becomes more complex and more challenging to manage. Now, leaders must delegate. The competitive landscape grows more threatening. Therefore, those who run adult companies must play chess – a multilevel, strategic game. Management expert and storyteller Mark Miller explains how the leaders of growing organizations can use four chess principles to become entrepreneurial grand masters. He returns to some familiar characters from his past fables, and shares the way young CEO Blake Brown becomes a solid leader. Though the tale may be slight and a bit contrived, Miller uses it, as in his other bestsellers, as a readable vehicle for sharing insight and information. getAbstract finds that his checkers-to-chess metaphor delivers teachable leadership advice that will help entrepreneurs, managers, coaches, HR officials and mentors.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why leaders should embrace a strategic “chess-not-checkers mind-set”
  • How to implement four chess principles to achieve organizational success


Checkers, Not Chess
During most leaders’ early careers, they play checkers – a simple, reactive game. But as those leaders advance, they instead must play chess – a strategic game requiring forethought and planning. Small firms can get by early on with a “checkers mind-set,” but must...
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About the Author

Chick-fil-A vice president for leadership development Mark Miller is a best-selling author. With Ken Blanchard, he co-authored The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do.

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    David Forry 1 year ago
    Great book, great comparisons. Mark Miller is a great story teller and paints a great picture with metaphors, this one comparing Chess to Business. Love the quote too “In chess, the more pieces you involve in the game, the greater your chances of winning.”

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