How to Become an Effective Chief Strategy Officer in 2019

In our ongoing “You Asked & We Answer” blog series we’re addressing the role of the Chief Strategy Officer in 2019. As the CSO, your responsibilities include determining the organization’s strategic planning process, while achieving greater transparency, engagement, and accountability throughout the company.

At Atiim, we believe that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are the most effective solution to goal-setting and strategy execution for organizations seeking alignment. In this article, we’ll detail how the methodology aligns everyone in the organization to your top corporate initiatives and provides ongoing monitoring and measurement of goal achievement for better results.

Although OKRs were first introduced and have enjoyed tremendous success in the tech sector, they are also employed by companies in numerous other verticals. So, regardless of your industry, we believe OKRs are adaptable and can become your bespoke blueprint for strategy execution.

The Transparency of OKRs Enables Alignment & Engagement

Most workers have no concept of how their responsibilities link to the company’s objectives. In their HBR review, “Office of Strategy Management,” authors Robert Kaplan and David Norton tell us that 95% of employees do not fully understand the company’s goals or what’s required of them. As a result, less than one-third of employees are truly engaged or enthusiastic about their work. Contrast this with a Deloitte study which found that no single factor has more impact on corporate performance than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely. They conclude that goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.”

Objectives and Key Results, as you’ll see, is a simple process, it’s about setting goals. OKRs improve clarity, direction, and communication creating the laser focus required to succeed in today’s markets.

In an OKR environment, the Objectives and Key Results are visible to everyone in the organization, top to bottom, and cross-functionally to ensure everyone is working together towards the same goals. This transparency helps to create alignment and engagement, by focusing everyone’s effort on what truly matters. To drive superior performance, everyone must understand that their work matters on an organizational level.

Becoming an Effective CSO – Getting Started with OKRs

How to get started with OKRs? We suggest you look to your Mission, Vision Statement, and Strategic Pillars for inspiration, and then ask the question, “What is most important for the next three, six, twelve months?” The key is to focus on those three to five objectives that can really propel the organization forward.

Objectives must answer the question, “What is it that we want to accomplish?” Objectives should be qualitative, inspirational, and action-oriented. We suggest you have a blend of aspirational goals and more attainable goals.

Next, develop Key Results in support of your initial Objectives. Key Results answer the questions, “How will we reach our Objectives, and how will we know if, and when, we’ve achieved our Objectives.” The best KRs (Key Results) use the SMART methodology; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Key Results typically use numbers and metrics.

Once your initial Objectives and Key Results are finalized, we suggest you communicate them broadly throughout the organization, answering both the “what” and the “why” of OKRs. Why are you adapting OKRs, what business issue are they addressing, and why now?

Becoming an Effective CSO – Monitoring and Tracking Performance

One of the keys to improved performance in an OKR execution is their more agile cadence. Although there are no hard and fast rules in the protocol, we recommend setting quarterly OKRs. These shorter term, quarterly OKRs drive the actual work to be done and inform everyone of their immediate priorities.

One of the most critical features in your OKR implementation should be regularly scheduled, Check-Ins to monitor performance towards completion of Key Results. Contributors should be prepared to update performance and detail any roadblocks or obstacles hindering their achievement.

Becoming an Effective CSO – Scoring and Grading OKRs

Another attribute of OKRs is the real-time learning that takes place. Scoring OKRs at the quarter’s end can be accomplished by averaging the performance achieved against each Key Result. Google uses a scale of 0 to 1.0.

.7 – 1.0 = Acceptable

.4 – .6 = Progress, but short of completion

.0 – .3 = Failure to make appreciable progress.

OKRs in the Failure category typically require some type of postmortem to determine what prevented achievement of the Objective.

This Scoring leads to learning and improved execution going forward. We recommend an assessment of what worked, and what didn’t. The team should reflect on what can be done better in subsequent quarters. As philosopher and educator John Dewey says in “Measure What Matters,” by John Doerr, “we do not learn from experience – we learn from reflecting on experience.”

We hope this article has helped to identify methods to become more effective as a Chief Strategy Officer in 2019. What we have outlined is obviously an abbreviated version of an OKR implementation. In practice, Atiim provides guidance and support through their professional and experienced Customer Success Managers. These CSMs are available to assist you in the onboarding process, staff training, and education.

Are you a Chief Strategy Officer? Do you set strategy, goals, and track performance? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

Image Credit: Patrick Perkins on

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