Chief strategy officer or CSO basically is a C-level executive who is responsible for planning, facilitating and communicating the astrategic initiatives and future goals of a company. While most of the C-suite executives have strategic responsibility for their respective domains and tend to majorly focus on the day-to-day responsibilities involved in running a business, CSOs are more focused on the overall strategy of the firm. According to Steven Rindner, CSOs have an intangible role that is vital for anticipating the future of a company and mobilizing the organization to meet its challenges.
The chief strategy officer has a considerable influence on the success of the organization and the impact of the decisions taken by the CEO. Steven Rindner underlines that in many situations, CSOs also act as quiet strategy counsels for the CEO, which invariably increases their value in an organization. It is important for a CSO to build trust and stature throughout the company with their knowledge and capabilities, to be able to drive contentious strategic decisions.
There are diverse facets to the role of a CSO. Here are some of them:
- The advisor: The key responsibility of the CSO includes identify vital insights based on the market conditions and challenges, and knit them together to form a robust strategy that is actionable at the corporate and business unit levels. When acting as advisors, these executive professionals help in formulating the strategy of a company by framing clear strategic choices, soliciting the perspectives of the senior leaders of the firm, and articulating a comprehensive resulting corporate strategy. CSOs firstly discuss the strategy with the other executives and key stakeholders of a company to build consensus on key issues, prior to communicating them more broadly throughout the organization.
- The sentinel: Many leaders expect CSOs to be their eyes and ears in the market, and warn them about potentially threatening competitive changes. In order to effectively act as the sentinel, CSOs would be required to routinely sense and monitor trends and events in their specific industry, and subsequently identify the most relevant signals. As they manage to effectively identify the most pertinent events, trends and uncertainties, the CSOs would be required to interpret their implications for the competitive strategy and long term goals of the organization. This process should be driven by facts about competitive intelligence in relation to diverse known and previously unknown competitors.
- The banker: In most cases, CSOs tend to be charged with overall business development functions that include identifying gaps in the business portfolio. These executive professionals can help build or develop strategic decisions that effectively fill those gaps, such as developing and overseeing the mergers and acquisition agenda of a company, and negotiating strategic partnerships. The mergers and acquisition related responsibilities of a business ideally entail identifying and executing deals, as well as managing the post-merger integration.
As per Steven Rindner that to be adequately successful, a CSO must try to hone the skills involved in meeting the requirements of each aspect of their role.