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Many companies are appointing people as chief strategy officers. So Taman Powell of Cardiff Business School, and Duncan Angwin, of Oxford Brookes University Business School, conducted interviews with 24 people holding that post at United Kingdom companies to understand the benefits they bring.

In MITSloan Management Review, they report that those leaders' activities divided into two areas. The first was the stage of the strategy process on which the chief strategy officer was focused; some formulated strategy and others focused on execution. The second area was how they engaged in the strategy process; some served as facilitators, advising business units; while others were enactors, executing the strategy process with their team. That led to four types of chief strategy officers:

Internal consultant: They concentrate on strategy formulation by themselves or their teams, operating like a traditional management consultant, except from an internal vantage point.

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Specialist: These executives were chosen because they had specialized skills the organization lacked, such as mergers-and-acquisitions experience or a background dealing with government regulations. They tended to be apart from the business units, operating with only the CEO and a few top officials knowing what they were doing.

Coach: These people operated within business units, helping them to develop strategy. Unlike the internal consultants, they didn't develop strategy themselves but tried to make sure people had the information and connections to others for effective strategy formulation.

Change agent: Like the specialists, these leaders focused on execution. But unlike those specialists they acted from within a business unit as a facilitator to enable success.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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