Could a Fractional Chief Strategy Officer be a solution for your business?

The pace and intensity of rapidly growing firms can narrow management attention to more immediate demands: driving sales, building technology, maintaining service levels, and hiring talent. While sustainable in the short term, if prolonged this more tactical focus limits a more strategic outlook and can stymie a firm’s future prospects.  Competitive conditions change, and without a complementary, forward-looking perspective, a business strategy can become stale. Consequently, an organization may miss out on new opportunities or face setbacks from unexpected threats. Additional strategy support can enable a management team to maintain their execution focus while also ensuring their business is positioned for longer term success. One way this can be accomplished is to retain a Fractional Chief Strategy Officer (‘FCSO’). 

An FCSO is a contract-based senior executive who can bring planning disciplines and business insights to complement a firm’s executive management team when needed, for a fraction of the cost of a permanent hire. Retaining an FCSO embeds a temporary, highly skilled, strategic partner with the broader remit to help the management team shape their own strategy and institute the disciplines needed to deliver it. The leadership team does not hand over responsibility for business strategy but is better able to manage it with the support of another executive leader who steps in when needed. 

Investing in the right kind of support is important, and the solution should conform to fit both the problem at hand and a firm’s available resources. Building a dedicated, internal strategy team with experienced, high caliber talent takes time and may not be financially feasible, particularly for smaller businesses. Additionally, short term projects outsourced to large consulting firms can be too narrow in scope and end with a hand-off back to management. Engagement with an FCSO offers the benefit of a potentially long-term relationship with a single executive, providing consistency over time at substantially lower cost.

A good FCSO offers more than just templates, processes, and new ideas. This individual, as a former senior executive, also brings the practical knowledge gained by developing and implementing strategy from within other organizations. An experienced FCSO has successfully navigated the internal and external challenges that can disrupt a strategic plan and has mobilized a business to achieve it. Insights from those experiences can be applied in other businesses to streamline and de-risk the delivery of the business strategy.

The part-time FCSO offers C-Suite caliber bandwidth in a flexible, potentially long-term engagement. With an FCSO onboard, even the leanest management teams can continue to focus on running their business without sacrificing their ability to keep their business strategy fit for the future. A firm’s leadership team gains an accessible, reliable resource when needed to keep thinking fresh and the long-term trajectory of the business on track, without the cost of a full time senior executive hire.

A contract-based FCSO is engaged on negotiable terms and the level of support is tailored based on what a firm requires.  While not exhaustive, some of these activities could include:

  • Supporting business leaders in their strategic thinking, providing an alternative set of eyes on new ideas and thoughtful perspectives on how to move forward with them.
  • Coordinating annual or multi-year strategic planning with best-in-class processes, including monthly or quarterly updates to ensure the strategy remains on track.
  • Introducing new competitive intelligence, performance monitoring, and analytical practices to enhance business management while building the capability to produce internally.
  • Helping to stand up new business initiatives and strategic change programs with the project management and governance disciplines necessary to execute them effectively.
  • Providing on-demand support when needed to quickly respond to unexpected challenges with an executive familiar with your business.
  • Serving as an on-call, independent sounding board on key business decisions.
  • Facilitating regular leadership summits, brainstorming sessions, and business reviews.

Would access to executive-level strategic talent help your business?  At Ascendence Consulting, we provide senior leaders with expert advice and lean consulting support – when they need it – to solve complex problems and plan for the future of their business.  Contact us for a confidential consultation.

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Jeffrey S. Barden
Managing Partner