Chief strategy officer

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A Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), or chief strategist, is an executive who is responsible for assisting the chief executive officer with developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategic initiatives.

Today many CEOs have less time to devote to executing strategy while at the same time uncertain environments increase the need for professional strategy development.[1][2] As a result, Presidents and CEOs in academic, nonprofit and corporate organizations are appointing CSOs.[3][4] In recent years, the CSO position increased in popularity, which is reflected by the high number of US companies (nearly 50% of S&P 500 firms) who created CSO positions in their top management teams.[5]

Chief strategy officer is a consultative role; part leader and part doer, an experienced visionary, an experienced executive with the responsibility of ensuring that execution supports the strategy elements. This unique background takes a multitude of different operating experiences, must include being both a creative thinker and influential collaborator.[6] Chief strategy officers are often executives who have worn many hats before at a variety of companies or agencies before taking on the responsibilities and tasks that come with the job title.[7][8]

The typical responsibilities of a CSO include:[9]

  • 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.
  • Monitoring the execution of the strategic plan.
  • Facilitating and driving key strategic initiatives through inception phase.
  • Ensuring departmental/unit strategic planning projects reflect organizational strategic priorities.
  • 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.


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.[10] This dichotomy can be further divided into four CSO archetypes.[11]

  • Internal Consultant: focused almost exclusively on strategy formulation.
  • Specialist: have specialized skills that are not otherwise present within an organization.
  • Coach: work to provide information to strategy creators and facilitate communication between teams, team members and stakeholders.
  • Change Agents: facilitate and enable.

Chief Global Strategist[edit]

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 a relatively new one 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 is Howard Schultz of Starbucks who was chairman and CEO but in 2000 left the position of CEO to become chief global strategist. Schultz returned to his previous role of chief executive officer on January 18, 2008.[12]

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