Do You Need a CSO?

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-04-16

Just because the chief strategy officer represents the latest executive trend, it doesnt necessarily mean you should hurry off and hire one from outside the company or promote someone from within.

Failing Internet consultancies, for example, are generally way too far gone to concern themselves with the nuances of corporate strategy. Michael Treacy, the CSO of Gen3 Partners, suggests the creation of a job title is not a solution to a failed business model.

"What these guys [struggling Web shops] need in a CSO is an emergency-room physician, [because] theyre in cardiac arrest," quips Treacy.

However, if youve got a decent business model and a sustaining company to go with it, a CSO might be just what the doctor ordered.

What to look for in a CSO? First, Treacy suggests a strong set of skills in change management—adapting companies to new ways of doing business—competitive analysis and organizational design. Second, good communication skills. The CSO doesnt have to be a cheerleader, but he does have to make the companys employees aware of sharing the same strategic goals.

Where do you find such people? Obviously, at high-end strategy consulting firms like Bain & Co. or McKinsey & Co., says Jim Champy, VP of strategy at Perot Systems.

But, not all CSOs travel the same path from Harvard Business School to the top strategy houses. Your marketing director, VP of business development or even your COO are excellent candidates for the CSO job because theyve had hands-on experience running business operations.

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