A chief strategy officer (CSO) is an executive, that usually reports to the CEO, and has primary responsibility for strategy formulation and management, including developing the corporate vision and strategy, managing strategic planning, and leading strategic initiatives, including M&A, transformation, partnerships, and cost reduction. Some companies give the title of Chief Strategist or Chief Business Officer to its senior executives who are holding the top strategy role.
The need for a CSO position may be attributed to CEOs having less time to devote to strategy, and/or to CEO's in startups with less experience in executive strategy execution along with uncertain environments that increase the need for professional strategy development. As a result the position can be seen in fast moving Tech companies, Entrepreneurial Tech Startups, academic, nonprofit and corporate organizations. In recent years, the CSO position increased in popularity in highly professional companies with significant growth and scaleability ambitions, which is reflected by the high number of US tech companies (nearly 50% of S&P 500 firms) who created CSO positions in their top management teams.
The CSO is an advisory and deal making role; both leader and doer, with the responsibility for understanding and formulating corporate strategy from a operational point of view, as well as ensuring that strategic initiatives and the corporate portfolio of businesses are optimized to support the strategy. The CSO must see the issues confronting the company from as broad a perspective as the chief executive does, and the CSO is often heavily involved in operational day-to-day projects working close together with key staff on business critical initiatives in order to utilise proven leadership capabilities and support less senior team members with coaching and deliver based on the CSO's high capacity project management and execution engine. This unique background takes a multitude of different operating experiences, and must include being both a creative thinker and influential collaborator. In quite a few cases, CSOs may be charged with overall business development including identifying gaps in the business or capabilities portfolios. They then make build, buy, or partner decisions to best fill those gaps. The Chief Strategy Officer's remit also frequently includes preparation of major sales prospects and strategic sales leads, support the facilitation of sales processes and lead sales teams when closing signifiant contracts with new major customer executives in top management and BoD buying environments. The Chief Strategy Officer often actively support the CEO and BoD and overseeing the company’s M&A agenda and developing and negotiating strategic partnerships or spinn-off's. M&A responsibilities often entail both identifying and executing deals and managing the post-merger integration. The business development role can also encompass licensing deals and venture capital investments that support the strategic agenda.  CSOs are often executives who have worn many hats at a variety of companies or agencies before taking on the responsibilities and tasks that come with the job title.
Develop a comprehensive, inclusive strategic plan and growth strategy by collaborating with the CEO, senior leadership and the board of directors.
Support development of company culture, values, vital recruitment tasks and tomorrows working practices e.g. remote work (covid-19) incl. rethinking of performance schemes for key staff.
Support the CTO to develop and execute complex development projects and coherent innovation pipelines.
Collaborate the R&D and operations organisation by low-key and pragmatic testing of new tech products from a customer perspective.
Analyze market dynamics, market share changes and product line performance.
Identify and often execute important capital projects, joint ventures, potential M&A targets and other strategic partnership opportunities.
Identify and convey strategic risks.
Communicating and implementing a company's strategy internally and externally so that all employees, partners, suppliers, and contractors understand the company-wide strategic plan and how it carries out the company's overall goals.
Driving decision-making that creates medium- and long-term improvement.
Establishing and reviewing key strategic priorities and translating them into a comprehensive strategic plan.
Manage operational day-to-day projects working close together with key staff in business critical initiatives in order to support less senior team members with coaching and utilisation the CSO's high capacity project management and execution engine.
Monitoring the execution of the strategic plan.
Facilitating and driving key strategic initiatives through inception phase.
Preparation of major sales prospects and strategic sales leads.
Facilitate sales processes and lead sales teams when closing signifiant contracts with new major customer executives in top management and BoD buying environments.
Actively support the CEO and BoD and overseeing the company’s M&A agenda and developing and negotiating strategic partnerships or spinn-off's.
Partnering with institutional leadership, special committees, and consultants to support execution of key initiatives.
Developing inclusive planning processes.
Translating strategies into actionable and quantitative plans.
Mobilizing and managing teams of individuals charged with executing strategies.
Acting as a resource across an organization to increase broad cohesion for strategic plans.
Execute divestments and divestiture.
Collaborate with the CFO to develop a capital plan in line with the organization's strategy.
In terms of the CSO’s role, which varies significantly from organization to organization and evolves over time, the two basic roles strategy developer and strategy implementer are observable. This dichotomy can be further divided into four CSO archetypes.
Strategic Advisor: focused almost exclusively on strategy formulation, portfolio management and leading strategic initiatives, and is often the primary archetype associated with the CSO.
Financial Specialist: have specialized skills that are not otherwise present within an organization that can be used to implement inorganic strategic changes. (e.g., M&A, investments, JV, corporate development)
Coach: work to provide information to strategy creators and facilitate communication between teams, team members and stakeholders.
Change Agents: facilitate and enable transformation. This archetype and the coach has evolved into a new c-suite role called a chief transformation officer or overlaps with the chief operating officer role.
CSOs often hold more advanced degrees, commonly a Master of Business Administration (MBA) combined with Industrial Engineering Technology degrees and/or IPMA certification Level A for programme management where the CSO has acted in a very complex project and/or programme environment that has major strategic impact on the organisation. Many executives holding the top strategy spot have had extensive experience in strategy development often at top management consulting firms. Other chief strategy officers have backgrounds in innovative industrial companies, hands-on research, corporate development or investment banking. An HBR study also found that most CSOs have planning, functional, or line-management skills in addition to their core strategy skills before assuming the top strategy role.
Chief Global Strategist
A Chief Global Strategist (CGS) is one of the highest-ranking corporate officers, administrators, corporate administrators, executives, or executive officers, in charge of the global strategy and the domestic and international expansion of a corporation, company, organization, or agency.
The position is relatively new in the private sector, and a reflection of the influence of globalization upon companies and other organizations that seek to expand their influence, whether as a matter of necessity to survive, or the exploration of an opportunity.
A prominent example of a CGS is Howard Schultz of Starbucks Corporation who was Chairman and CEO; however, in 2000 he left the position of CEO to become the Chief Global Strategist. Schultz returned to his previous role as CEO on January 18, 2008.(http://url=http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/starbucks-company-timeline\ | access-date=26 September 2016 | publisher=Starbucks.com)
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