Key Takeaways

  • Adaptability over rigidity—Traditional annual strategic planning is outdated in today’s fast-paced environment. Modern strategists must embrace flexibility and engage with a broader range of stakeholders.  
  • Strategist roles—Effective strategists should develop distinct strengths, such as resource reallocation and business development, to provide unique value to their organization.  
  • Recruitment for modern needs—Companies must recruit strategy executives with a forward-thinking approach, focusing on candidates who adapt and thrive in a dynamic landscape.  

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, the role of strategy leaders, such as Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs), has evolved significantly. The professionalization of strategic roles, which began in the 1980s, has led to the establishment of Heads of Strategy and Strategic Planning Directors. However, the traditional annual strategic-planning process is no longer sufficient for today’s unpredictable world.  

The Shift from Traditional Strategic Planning

According to McKinsey Quarterly, the conventional strategic-planning process, characterized by a rigid annual cycle of deliverables and review meetings, is inadequate in the current environment. The need for agility and rapid response has highlighted the weaknesses of this approach. Today’s strategists must move beyond these old methods and spend more time engaging with diverse groups both inside and outside the company, reflecting the dynamism of the external environment.  

Expanding the Strategist’s Role 

To achieve real impact, strategists need to go beyond planning and develop distinctive strengths. Our research highlights several critical aspects of a strategist’s role, including:  

  • Reallocating corporate resources—Dynamically shifting resources to align with changing strategies.  
  • Building strategic capabilities—Enhancing strategic skills in key areas of the organization.  
  • Identifying Business-Development Opportunities—Spotting and leveraging growth opportunities.  
  • Generating Proprietary Insights—Analyzing external forces and long-term market trends.  

These roles vary in importance depending on the organization and the individual strategist, but the fundamental idea of diversifying and specializing is crucial for all.  

Key Issues for Enhancing Strategic Importance 

Career Background 

Strategists often fall back on their previous experiences when stepping into new roles, which can be limiting. For instance, former investment bankers may focus on business development, while project leaders might prioritize project delivery. Effective strategists must perform honest self-assessments to avoid being trapped by their past experiences and ensure their priorities align with the company’s strategic needs.  

Resource Allocation 

Strategic success requires dynamic resource allocation. McKinsey research indicates that companies that actively reallocate resources tend to achieve better and more stable returns than those that do not. This adaptability is particularly crucial during economic downturns.  


Prioritization is implicit in effective resource allocation. Strategists who clearly define and focus on their key responsibilities are significantly more effective. As the scope of strategic roles broadens, the ability to prioritize becomes even more critical.  

Recruiting for Strategic Acumen

To recruit effective CSOs and other strategic leaders, companies must adopt a modern approach. This involves a thorough and innovative recruitment process, identifying candidates with the ability to adapt and excel in a dynamic environment. Partnering with a recruiting firm that understands the demands of this new strategic landscape is essential. Such a firm can help identify candidates with the right mix of skills and experiences and effectively communicate the company’s vision and values to potential hires.  

By shifting from traditional recruitment methods and embracing a forward-thinking approach, companies can find strategic leaders who are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of today’s business world. 

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