Boards are also increasing their involvement in strategy development; several have guided their CEOs toward delegating strategy execution to another C-suite executive. They must be able “to tell [the strategy story] in a way people can understand and buy in to,” says Countrywide’s Janet Matricciani. But most CSOs consider themselves doers first, with the mandate, credentials, and desire to act as well as advise. CSOs can also help steer the top team away from groupthink and from focusing too much on past practices and accomplishments—problems that can afflict executives who have worked together for a long while. Maybe it’s the CEO and the CEO only. Successful execution, therefore, depends more than ever on rapid and effective decision making. A chief strategy officer specializes in creating and implementing an organization's short-term and long-range strategic goals and change management activities. He or she must be that person who, in the CEO’s stead, can walk into anyone’s office and test whether the decisions being made are aligned with the strategy and are creating the desired results. COOs and CFOs are too wrapped up in day-to-day dealings. To make sure decisions align with strategy through all levels of the organization, top strategy executives must be comfortable working at 50,000 feet, 500 feet, 50 feet, and on down. What Makes a Great Chief Strategy Officer Three things every CSO should think about. Countrywide’s Matricciani told us that thorough due diligence on new products and potential partnerships helps her to be persuasive when presenting opportunities to the rest of the company (or when explaining why it should stick to its knitting). Or what decisions have we not made that we need to make, because we’re heading down a path and it’s going to be hard to reverse course?’” explains Kimberly-Clark’s Black. Chief Communications officer 8. Around 38% of leading businesses operating in European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) countries have opened a position for a Chief Digital Officer in their organization chart. Our initial observation was that CSOs are, in many ways, as diverse as the titles they hold. A chief information officer usually manages a team of IT specialists responsible for maintaining the day-to-day IT operations. Connect With Us 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 203, Washington, DC 20004 Phone: (202) 727-2476 Fax: (202) 727-1643 TTY: 711 Email: [email protected] Even more important, we've helped shape and define what health and well-being means in everyday lives. He could also ensure that the decision was based on a strong strategic rationale as well as a financial one. These CSOs carried out activities similar to traditional management consultants. A CSO's role is to continuously examine the company as a whole and to have ready answers to critical business questions like: How do customers rate our customer service? Then consider the nature of strategy itself. Indeed, we found only one who was directly hired from a consultancy. We rounded out the research with in-depth interviews of chief strategy officers from various industries and backgrounds. Second, CSOs must drive immediate change. One health care company we studied was rebounding from bankruptcy in 2005, so its strategic emphasis was on fast growth. The execution of the strategy — ownership and responsibility for its implementation — resided firmly with the business units. Today’s end-users — customers, commuters, citizens, patients, employees — demand individualized, immediate and intelligent interactions in everything they do, creating an innovation imperative across all business and government sectors. All rights reserved. Clarifying the corporate vision can sound like a leisurely activity, but the reality is far more urgent. Fuller recently announced it was hiring its first-ever CSO specifically “to emphasize and align the key functions of strategy planning, business development, process improvement, and information technology.” And when Marjorie Dorr was named WellPoint’s CSO, the company’s CEO said in a press release that Dorr would be “working with and across all business units to [establish] specific plans, deliverables, and measurable objectives…in order to drive progress and achieve desired results.”, In the long term, the role of top strategy executive can become an effective succession-planning tool. By 2005, according to an article in Advertising Age, the “low-key, thoughtful, and almost professorial” Johnson had helped propel a turnaround at Campbell’s by pushing for innovations in products, packaging, and shelving and by supporting it all with investments in marketing. These individuals are rarely abandoned by top executives who recognize their worth. Half the job involves learning why decisions aren’t being made in accordance with strategy and quickly determining whether to stay the course. The demands and intricacies of conducting business in multiple cultures, time zones, and political or regulatory environments are exacting a stiff toll on globe-trotting CEOs. Increased volatility, rapid globalization, the rise of new technologies, industry convergence, and changes in the workforce—all have contributed to an environment in which top-down planning needs to be balanced with quick and agile execution. “I report to the CEO, and I sometimes represent his issues and concerns more directly when I need to. Many CSOs therefore have long-standing relationships with their CEOs. They haven’t run a whole company before.”. The broad mix of skills and experience required of a CSO is rare, which makes those who possess this combination highly valued. But one shouldn’t take the capaciousness of the role to mean anything goes—just slot someone in and let her figure it out. Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. ), The CSO at times functions as a sort of “mini CEO,” someone who must see the issues confronting the company from as broad a perspective as the chief executive does, says Kimberly-Clark’s Black, who previously served as COO of Sammons Enterprises, a conglomerate with $27 billion in assets, and as president of Steelcase’s international operations. Also consider that stakeholder demands from all quarters are putting pressure on CEOs to deliver results rapidly—and deliver them in line with factors that are only tangentially related to the making and marketing of products or services. Special Offer. CEOs, grappling with the complexity of doing business in a global economy, are too overloaded to stay on top of strategy implementation. (Even CEOs need to sleep.) Chief strategy executives, therefore, must ensure that the members of the leadership team come to agreement on strategy decisions. “Money is made executing, not strategizing,” reported one chief technology officer, who is also responsible for strategy at his professional services firm. Our investigation revealed that strategy executives are charged with three critical tasks that together form the very definition of strategy execution. Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles. Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs) face a number of challenges distinct from those faced by other members of the C-Suite—in particular, the breadth and ambiguity of the CSO’s role. The strategy chief at a software company, for instance, recalled having to help members of the senior management team realize that their lack of international experience was preventing the company from carrying out its plans to expand overseas quickly and decisively. The CEO’s vote of confidence and a strong résumé confer the credibility that gets you a fair hearing as a top strategy executive. Therefore, he worked with the heads of Sales, Marketing, M&A, and Strategy Development to address stalled growth, identify attractive new markets, and formulate aggressive acquisition strategies. “All our divisions have strategic plans, and I’m part of making them happen,” says Janet Matricciani, the head of strategic planning and chief strategy officer at Countrywide Bank. The Office of the Chief Information Officer is under the leadership of the Chief Information Officer, Gundeep Ahluwalia, with Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO) for Administration and Strategy Louis (Lou) Charlier and the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Operations, Rick Kryger. As senior vice president of strategic planning during Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s tenure, Schreiber’s focus was on implementing investment decisions and acquiring companies selected by the management team. As Heidrick & Struggles’s managing partner Krishnan Rajagopalan told us: “People take on the chief strategy role because they want to run the business sooner or later. Look for CSO candidates with these characteristics: “What we’ve been doing isn’t in line with the company’s strategy—and we need to fix that.” Someone in your organization has the mandate to walk into any office, speak those words, and spark some sort of transformation. Nearly three decades ago, one executive arguing for the creation of a new top strategy role explained why it should not be folded into the COO’s duties. “I’m not a career strategist,” says Bob Black, Kimberly-Clark’s senior vice president and CSO. Get weekly updates on how global companies are managing in a changing world. This isn’t to say that CSOs just reflexively push strategic initiatives downward. content, In the medium term, CSOs add value by building world-class strategy development and execution capabilities within the company. The chief strategy executive position, then, is “a huge job” that should be filled only by highly accomplished business veterans. Our research was complicated by the existence of a great diversity of titles that fit the role of chief strategy officer—more than 90, in fact. Unlimited digital The Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer (ADCMO) is the delegated decision authority and principal deputy to the DCMO. WellPoint’s CSO, Marjorie Dorr, was plucked from her position as president and CEO of the company’s northeast region, where she had increased membership in the health care company’s plans from 800,000 to 2.6 million. AIG’s Brian Schreiber wanted to be the “first call people made every time they had a new [strategic] opportunity.” That way, he could quickly get the right people involved in making a decision—calling on members of the senior team, for instance, or experts in functional areas like treasury and risk management. CSOs of this type focused almost exclusively on strategy formulation by themselves or with their strategy team. Paying a contract CSO less than $49,000 for 6 months minus benefits is a reasonable alternative to hiring a full-time executive level W-2 employee. Johnson & Johnson is a company of enduring strength. When decisions below the executive suite aren’t being made in accordance with strategy, much of the CSO’s job involves learning why and quickly determining whether to stay the course or change tack. According to our research, they spend an estimated 39% of their time on horizon two, while 36% of their time is devoted to horizon three, and 25% is spent monitoring horizon one. The C-Level titles are the highest titles in corporations or businesses and are given to people who head divisions and disciplines. Office of the Chief Risk Officer 505 Broadway Cardinal Hall, 6th Floor Redwood City, CA 94063 United States. Chief Business officer 10. We also took a closer look at the increasingly popular “chief strategy officer” title, analyzing the press releases and media coverage of more than 100 CSO appointments to determine how the role is evolving. Even the most compelling strategy is useless if it isn’t implemented. There’s no simple, step-by-step recipe for success in the role of chief strategy officer—but there are a few essential ingredients. Other CSOs were enactors, far more likely to execute the strategy process by themselves or with their team. Chief Strategy Officer (CSO): A chief strategy officer (CSO) is an executive charged with helping formulate, facilitate and communicate an organization's plans for the future. This is where a skilled CSO can be quite beneficial! Consider the backgrounds of a few chief strategy officers. There are usually one or two steps, however, between taking over the CSO role and becoming the CEO.”. Address. Most of the top strategy executives we polled said they split their time almost evenly between strategy formulation and execution, yet their statements reveal a tilt toward the latter. CSOs ensure corporate strategy gets translated into action, say Breene, Nunes, and Shill. Organizational Chart Contact Us OCRO Internal Site (OCRO-only) Main Content. Some companies, including AIG, Kimberly-Clark, Motorola, and Yahoo!, have discovered a way to fill the execution void: hire a chief strategy officer. To properly adjust your current strategies miles Interim Dean, a chief information usually! 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