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Revealing the chief strategist's hidden value

2016

Uncertain economic and political developments and constantly changing circumstances conspire to bring ever-growing complexity to the work of strategy departments. Tough spending cuts implemented by many companies add to the pressure facing Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs). Such conditions make it all the more important to meaningfully measure the work done by strategy teams and to communicate it clearly both within the company and to external stakeholders. These are some of the findings of this study by Roland Berger and the University of St.Gallen (HSG). The study is based on a survey of 109 CSOs from European companies operating across a range of industry sectors.

Even though 94 percent of the companies surveyed have a central strategy department at corporate headquarters, it does not carry sole responsibility for formulating and implementing the company's overall strategy. In fact, 44 percent of firms also have strategy teams in other divisions or national subsidiaries. M&A departments in particular do a great deal of work on formulating and refining strategies (54%). And 70 percent of survey respondents also call in outside support on special strategy projects.

There is good reason for involving other divisions or local subsidiaries: Globally operating enterprises need to have a thorough overview of what's going on throughout the company and require input from all concerned parties if they want to be fast and flexible in reacting to new customer needs and market trends. Added to that, as Dr. Tim Zimmermann, Partner at Roland Berger, explains, "Staff are more motivated and more willing to accept the new strategy and actually put it into practice if it has not simply been imposed from above."

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