The CEO’s Strategy Handbook: A book review by Bob Morris

The CEO’s Strategy Handbook: How to create, sustain and accelerate profitable growth
Stuart Cross
Global Professional Publishing (2011)

How to manage strategy effectively and on a continuous basis

In fact, everyone in a given enterprise (including but not limited to C-level executives) should be actively engaged in effective management of strategy. Only then can profitable growth be achieved and (more importantly) sustained. What Stuart Cross offers in this book is a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system within which to formulate and then execute a strategy by which to achieve those separate but related objectives. There are no head-snapping revelations, nor does he make any such claim. Rather, after carefully (and concisely) identifying the “what,” he focuses most of his attention on “how.”

Readers will appreciate Cross’s skillful use of devices throughout his narrative that facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points. For example, all in Chapter 1, Figures that illustrate “The Three Drivers of winning business strategies,” “Drivers of Turbulence,” “Innovation vs. Problem Solving,” “The reality of problem solving.” In the same chapter, there are Checklists that encapsulate three inter-connected factors that are necessary for a successful and winning strategy business strategy, situations that an organization should avoid, key roles on which to focus during the strategy development process, and “The Ten Drivers of Turbulence.” All this in the first chapter and there are dozens more throughout the remaining chapters as well as a “Key Points” section at the conclusion of all ten chapters.

It is important to keep in mind this is a “handbook” and best read and then re-read with a highlighter pen in hand to identify key passages within the text. I also highly recommend a companion notebook in which to record supplementary notes. (FYI, I favor the optic yellow Sharpie ACCENT Tank Style and used most of one’s ink supply to highlight the key passages in this book. I also favor the Mead Black Marble Wide-Ruled Composition Book that Amazon now sells at a 67% discount.) Cross immediately establishes and then maintains a direct, personal rapport with his reader and seems determined to do all he can to help his reader to “create, sustain and accelerate profitable growth” and do so in effective collaboration with associates. Of course, it remains for each reader to determine which material is most relevant to the needs, interests, resources, and ultimate objectives of the given enterprise.

One final point: All of the results-driven, high-impact executives I have known and worked closely with through several decades “had dirt under their nails” and set an example with everything they said and did…as well as with everything they didn’t say and didn’t do. Similarly, Stuart Cross sets an example for other authors of business books with how he organizes and then presents the material in this book. He obviously agrees with Thomas Edison, “Vision without execution is hallucination,” and with Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”


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