What is the role of a chief strategy officer?

CSOs sometimes act as chief of staff to the CEO, especially in their interactions with the board of directors. The CSO prepares strategy presentations and conducts executive-level workshops and planning sessions. The CSO is also the primary liaison with external advisors and consultants to keep leaders informed of project progress. It's easy to misjudge the role of the chief strategy officer, in part because the title itself is misleading.

These executives are not, for example, simple strategists and carry out long-term planning in relatively isolation. And they are not specialists who have only sucked in the rarefied air of strategy over long careers of thinking instead of acting. Rather, they are experienced executives with a strong strategic orientation who have generally led important initiatives or businesses and performed many operational roles before taking office. The CSO's task is to work with the CEO, leadership team, and board of directors to develop the vision and strategy of the organization.

The task of the CSO is to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to facilitate its implementation. We completed the research with in-depth interviews with chief strategy officers from various sectors and fields. In his own words, “a fundamental conflict between what's easy to execute and what's right often sets the chief operating officer aside from making the most difficult decision.