Companies need to reboot the CSO role and strategy itself.”
–strategy& 2018 CSO Benchmarking Study
In part one of the series The Case for Strategy Capabilities, we noted that strategy is arguably the most critical leadership capability in business, yet it is the most underdeveloped. And the poor results and current lack of faith in existing strategies proves the point. We identified three root causes for the dismal state of strategy in business today. This covers the first issue.
Strategy Capabilities Issue #1: A Narrow View of Strategy
Go ahead and ask for yourself. The vast majority of people in business today at all levels will tell you that strategy is under the purview of senior leadership; in particular, the CEO. And CEOs believe that too. Except strategy hasn’t been working and is fraught with issues so in recent years they’ve been adding a new position to the C-suite: Chief Strategy Officer (or CSO). But issues persist and even though the position is new to corporate America, they’re already talking about rebooting the position.
It’s not that the idea that strategy is the responsibility of senior leaders is wrong. It’s not wrong at all. It’s that strategy is the exclusive responsibility of senior leaders. That idea completely misses the mark. The narrow view of the exclusivity of strategy capabilities is a primary reason for the number one issue with strategy: lack of alignment.
The better idea is that strategy is the fundamental responsibility of EVERY leader at every level. Think about it. If market share is currently x% but the desire is x%+y%, marketers need a strategy to increase market share. If the current available skilled labor is x but to grow the business you need x+y, then you need a labor strategy. If it currently takes 3 weeks to close the books at the end of an accounting cycle but it needs to be 2 weeks, you need a strategy to change it. Leaders at every level need strategy capabilities in order to effectively achieve their goals.
If the fundamental strategy methodology being used in a business is known by every leader at every level, it will dramatically improve results. It stands to reason that more leaders will be achieving their goals for the business.
And it will make it much easier to address Strategy Capabilities Issue #2: Inherent Issues with Strategy Development, Alignment and Execution. This will be the next subject in this series.