What Is Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and Why You Should Hire One

By Tamara Dzajkovska|16-08-2022 | 6 Min Read
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Employing a CSO will reduce the organisation’s workload.

A Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a reasonably new ‘C-level’ role in an organisation with the power to formulate, facilitate, and communicate ideas and strategies geared toward organisational goals.

The CSO operates at the highest rank in an organisation and reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and top other executives of a company, working with them to actualise an organisational goal. They develop short-term and long-term goals, communicate them appropriately across all levels and guide all stakeholders through the planning process and its actualisation.

The CSO office has grown in recent years, with many more organisations embracing the need for a chief strategy officer career path. Titles used to alternate CSO can include: vice president of corporate strategy, strategic development, or chief strategist.

Why Exactly Do Businesses Hire a CSO?

Different organisations have various reasons for hiring a CSO. They are often positioned uniquely to understand the workforce, their needs, the target market, board, and corporate shareholders, the community, and the organisation's overall goal.

And with the increasing sophistication of running a business in today’s forward-thinking, fast-paced world, the complexities require a high level of experience that puts executives and senior leadership teams on their toes. In addition, they constantly need to develop and implement strong strategies to put the organisation at a competitive advantage. Hence, a Chief Strategy Officer is required to bring to the team, a person with high levels of expertise and years of experience in working with several businesses.

When is The Right Time To Bring On a CSO

A CEO should consider bringing a CSO to the executive team based on several factors. But a more critical factor is that the team should be brutally honest about the situation of the company. These indicators will help:

  • When individual leaders provide strategic inputs to the authorities, they are rarely considered. The authorities can attest to this because even they have not changed the content for many years.
  • The table of the executives is laden with the financial plan being masqueraded as a growth strategy.
  • The strategic plan was written some years back, but it has not been revisited ever since.
  • The company doesn’t have a team or individual responsible for following up on the strategic plan to ensure that the strategies are implemented.
  • Finally, when you quiz the management team, they can hardly remember or comprehend the organisation’s strategic direction.

How To Hire a CSO 

1. Determine Your Values as an Organisation 

The first thing you want to do as an organisation is to define your values and standards, including the kind of qualities you want to be found in a CSO. 

Such qualities include:

  • Multitasking skills - the CSO should be the master of multitasking and is responsible for diverse business operations and activities, including market research, competitor analysis, long-term planning, etc;
  • Strategy Execution Skills - the CSO must focus on the long and short-term issues and handle any problems within the organisation’s structure and strategy execution;
  • Objectivity - Chief Strategy Officers play a crucial role in the organisation, so they need to be objective and bring freshness into the team by providing clear solutions, setting deliverable objectives and expectations and driving business operations;

A CSO is hired and appointed by the organisation's president or a key senior official. However, the terms, conditions, and requirements to hire one depend on the organisation.

Supplementary reading: Marshmallows, Discipline & Focus?

2. Establish What Your Company Needs 

The introduction of a CSO is responsible for driving development efforts in the organisation. Aside from promoting the proper steps within the company, they also have to ensure that strategic initiatives do not deviate from the total objective and goals of the organisation. 

The CSO also performs a market analysis to understand its dynamics, product line performance, and market share changes to produce the best strategy for success. The CSO role shouldn’t be confused or interchangeably used with the CMO. 

The CMO - Chief Marketing Officer role, on the other hand, is focused on driving demand, creating and offering products and services that have value to customers, business partners or clients. The CMO manages and oversees the marketing activities within the company, has a broad understanding of the brand development process, conducts sales management strategies and provides input into the marketing communications, advertising and project management.

Common Activities of a Chief Strategist 

Upon employment, a CSO will review the active strategy in your company to have a complete grasp of the conditions working within the organisation and also find out the challenges being faced. After this, they analyse the data collated and create ideas for achieving the company's future goals.

They’ll likely have to scrap the current strategies if they are not working and not meeting the complete goal of the company. The CSO's service will also help combat security challenges, mitigate risks, and align the organisation's initiatives.

The CSO will go ahead to create the steps required to meet the organisation’s goals and update the strategy to include all company departments. Without an updated system, the company may find it hard to stay evolving, innovative, and stay updated. 

More activities to be undertaken include:

  • Assessing the market situation and determining if it has positively or negatively impacted the organisation.
  • Ensuring the opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses available in the company.
  • Aligning the company’s objectives with the provided strategies.
  • Encouraging a holistic and collaborative method to strategy.

CSO Hiring Time

Hiring a Chief Strategy Officer is one of the best decisions any organisation concerned about growth and success will consider. Leaders in most organisations are too engrossed in other activities that are not strategic to their specific growth demand. 

Employing a CSO will reduce the organisation’s workload. And you know what, the best time to get started is now! The reason is that every business needs a well-defined strategy to excel. A focused and skilled CSO is the first move to do so.

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Tamara is a professional musician, content creator, and marketing specialist, mainly administering her interest in SEO. As a general manager of a completely remote marketing agency, she puts all efforts into creating a thriving multi-cultural working environment giving her a great perspective of how crucial good people management and leadership are for a successful business. She believes that with reasonable effort, a little help, and motivation, everyone can achieve great things in life and become the person they want to be.

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