Strategic Execution Officer: The New Essential in Business


In the last five years companies have found that the traditional role of strategic planning is ineffective in today’s global, productivity driven culture. In fact, strategic planning as a whole has morphed into a larger, more refined role as companies look not only to have plans for the future but a disciplined approach as to how to get there. That strategy is the role of the newest executive in corporate America, the SEO or Strategic Execution Officer.
For some companies the strategic execution officer is technology-based in that he or she leverages technology to streamline business processes or to develop information technology tools that will support management control issues and business processes. For others, the strategic execution officer serves as the central matrix point, cultivating a nexus of controls that allow for communication and collaboration amongst departments, divisions, or offices.

In the last fifteen years or so, strategic planning and operations management were the buzzwords as the Six Sigma business quality model was implemented wide scale. What Six Sigma did not do was help companies perform at higher rates, even though their quality assessments increased. The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative estimates that eighty to ninety percent of strategic plans are never carried out. Just a decade ago, project failure rates hovered around the same levels. What can be taken from those numbers is that after company executives and teams have returned from retreats and decided where they want to go as an organization, the failpoint has been in implementing a strategy necessary to get to that place and then seeing it transpire.

When companies invest in strategic planning it is an investment in human resources. This is not just pure jotting down of notes in your academic diary.Allocating money for the ultimate benefit of the company appears to be the soundest investment executives can make. However, when a plan only has ideas and no real method to discover or deploy action items in order to make a plan workable, you do not have a plan you have a rendering of the finished product. Imagine someone wanting to build their own home. They visit an architect’s office and tell them exactly what they want. The job of the architect is to render via Cad or other design software a working image of what the individual wanted. What the architect cannot do is tell you the steps to achieve the building of that home.

And such is the problem with strategic planning. With this new role it has often fallen to chief information officers who took the challenge of building a set of IT protocols that enable oversight and some workflow pattern to enable the strategic plan to be fulfilled. In other cases, the CIO fulfilled his/her obligations by developing a series of processes shaped around the critical data that a company uses to service its clients and customers. And still others have found their duties to include taking the overall goals of the company and placing them into short and long term objectives and then holding divisions accountable to them.

The real work of the strategic executive officer is behind the scenes as foreman. What business leaders have found is that these executives or managers of change push to strike a balance between the projects that drive a company and the people that drive the projects that drive the company. This is a result of the modern marketplace converging and our established methods of business are inefficient to deal with the matters every business faces. The importance being that human capital has so much value in the marketplace that it could be said that we have moved from a blue collar work ethic to a knowledge worker base of labor. And with that comes changes that must be made to embrace the changes necessary to allow company’s to reach their goals.

In whatever the role whether the SEO is busing and managing a platform of digital processes and data that serve key companywide processes or building a platform of services that reach companywide, relieving individual units of certain responsibilities the job of the strategic execution officer has become an essential in our global marketplace. This job can be categorized in four segments: developing and overseeing the components of the core business-process platform, accepting a leadership role in a company’s IT governance, brokering opportunities for driving value from the platform, and establishing an organization and incentives for sustaining the platform.

Managers and entrepreneurs are in need of men and women who are passionate about seeing a big idea become reality, people whose greatest gift is getting things done. These productivity magnets are essential to the success of an organization.

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