Strategy Officer KPIs: 3 Ways CSOs Can Prove Their Value

Article by 
Cascade Team
  —  Published 
February 2, 2024
February 3, 2024

The role of the chief strategy officer (CSO) is a complex one. Many question how much of an impact CSOs have on a company. Despite the best-laid business plans, CSOs often run into issues with teams using disconnected systems to track and plan their strategic actions. 

Many studies show that 60 - 90% of strategies fail, and fragmented visibility is often the beginning of the end. To ensure operations align with long-term strategic goals, CSOs must start by clarifying their key performance indicators (KPIs). 

In this article, we explore the core business metrics chief strategists must track to pinpoint their impact on company performance. We also show how Cascade, our strategy execution platform, can effectively track business KPIs to help CSOs demonstrate their value.

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Show Impact On Company’s Goals 

The most clear-cut way to assess the value of a strategy department in any business model is to consider progress toward the company’s strategic objectives

If you are a CSO, you must show how your strategic initiatives impact core business metrics and the company’s overall goals.  

Here are some common KPIs you should measure:

  • Revenue growth
  • Gross profit margins
  • Net profit margin
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • EBIT (Earnings Before Income and Taxes)

Keep in mind that each company has its own set of business strategies and related KPIs to measure progress. 

Before you can accurately direct strategic actions, you must clearly understand the needs of the leadership team. This enables you to select metrics that directly align with strategic priorities. 

By using Cascade’s Metrics Library, you can connect their strategic initiatives to company goals, offering clear evidence of the impact of their efforts. At the same time, you ensure everyone in the company is working towards the same metrics.

Also, Cascade’s Planner breaks down the complexity of your strategy by mapping high-level initiatives to executable outcomes. This approach enables you to monitor the progress or setbacks of different teams across the organization in real-time. 

cascade planner view product screen
Cascade Planner view

📚Recommended reading: 7 Tips For Better Board Reporting

Measure Success Beyond The Bottom Line 

The CSO's role extends beyond meeting baseline financial targets. Impressive monthly reports are a good reflection of the value you offer. However, your chief executive officer (CEO) will want to probe beyond the strategic goals, seeking insights into the organization’s operational efficiency and agility. 

Here are four flexible strategy officer KPIs to demonstrate your impact beyond core business metrics:

1. Number of targets achieved in a timely manner

This KPI evaluates how CSOs set targets but also whether they realize them within expected timelines. In volatile markets, momentum and consistent progress are crucial to success. 

One caveat is that it’s vital for the executive team to spell out their expectations for CSOs. If clear targets are set, the onus is on the CSOs to deliver—and speed of results is a surefire way to prove your value to the company.

2. Number of innovations

This metric tracks the quantity of impactful ideas or processes introduced under the CSO's leadership. The board of directors wants to see new business development in the company. If they don’t, they may see it as a warning sign that the company is not set up for sustainable growth. 

Conversely, demonstrating a role in cultivating a forward-thinking, tech-savvy culture positions you as a visionary strategy leader to C-suite members and stakeholders.

3. Number of people involved in strategic projects

Direct employee involvement can make or break a strategy. If your strategy planning and execution process doesn't unite people, your efforts may only have a short-term impact. For a sustainable growth strategy, CSOs must nurture strategic partnerships between business units and cross-functional teams

This metric is one of the most important KPIs for strategy officers because it measures how effective the CSO is at bridging the gap between strategy and execution.

4. Percentage of strategic alignment

Many companies overlook the alignment and relationships between teams and goals during the strategic planning process. Everyone must understand their role if you're going to hold teams accountable for what they say they will deliver. 

This KPI offers insight into how aligned the individual and departmental actions are with the overarching company strategy. In short, it shows if you are steering the organization in a unified direction or not. If you’re failing here, your chief financial officer (CFO) is sure to point out the cost of this misalignment sooner rather than later. 

Cascade makes it easy to measure this aspect of strategic development through the alignment score feature.

alignment map and alignment score view in cascade
Alignment map view with alignment score details
This tool offers a clear, quantifiable measure of alignment, giving CSOs a way to quickly identify areas of misalignment and proactively make adjustments before more significant problems arise.

📚Recommended reading: Horizontal Vs Vertical Strategic Alignment

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Gather Feedback From Employees

You can gauge the effectiveness of the strategy function with a focus on gathering feedback. One of the best ways to get feedback is through employee surveys.

employee strategy survey example

This approach provides valuable insights into how your strategy resonates with the people responsible for its success. Also, when you give everyone a voice in strategy, you can improve company-wide alignment and execution.

Consider using employee surveys to assess the following areas:

Increased collaboration due to shared strategic initiatives

Many companies suffer from fragmented visibility and communications, which often create silos, delays, and a breakdown in communications. Separate business units or departments must remember they share interconnected strategic goals. 

Ask your employees:

  • How have shared strategic initiatives improved collaboration among different teams?
  • What problems are you experiencing with cross-departmental collaboration?
  • What specific steps can we take to improve cross-departmental collaboration?

Cross-functional collaboration is more than a buzzword or box to tick; it's a competitive advantage, demanding strategic emphasis and active cultivation by the CSOs.

Stronger alignment with the organization’s strategic goals

Aligning the workforce with strategic goals is critical in achieving holistic strategy execution. But many companies are misaligned here—McKinsey reported that “only about a quarter” of senior strategy leaders have a clear strategy mandate aligned with the rest of the company.

Ask your employees:

  • How do you perceive the alignment between your team's activities and our organization's strategic goals?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your team's accountability in executing strategic tasks and meeting deadlines?
  • What areas of your work or the company strategy do you feel are causing friction or issues in your team’s progress? 

This assessment aims to pinpoint specific strategic alignment gaps and areas of confusion across the organization, guiding targeted improvements.

💡Tip: Encourage continuous feedback on strategic alignment, making this a regular part of performance discussions to foster a culture of accountability and strategic cohesion.

Overall clarity of the company's strategy among employees

It's much easier to motivate employees to do their best when you can give the entire organization access to what's happening, why, and how. If people don't understand your corporate strategy, they'll never be able to bring the vision to life.

Ask your employees:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how clear are the company-wide strategic objectives to you?
  • How does your understanding of our strategy impact your daily decision-making and overall performance?
  • How effective is our strategy communication across different organizational levels? Where do you see room for improvement?

These questions help you evaluate how well your employees understand the company's strategic direction. This will also enable you to pinpoint specific areas where communication can be enhanced to ensure everyone is aligned and informed.

By engaging employees through these regular, targeted surveys, you can turn your company’s strategy into a dynamic, living framework embraced and understood by every team member.

💡Tip: Determine a frequency for formally evaluating employee feedback. For example, send the survey every quarter or mid-year. 

A continuous dialogue about strategic objectives not only clarifies but also enriches the collective execution and the organization’s adaptability.

How To Measure Impact And Drive Results With Cascade

Cascade’s strategy execution software helps chief strategy officers centralize strategy. This platform makes it easier to plan, execute, and track strategy and make faster, smarter decisions. 

When it comes to tracking strategy officer KPIs, let’s explore how Cascade can help CSOs.👇

Centralized platform to connect inputs with outcomes

Cascade’s unified platform consolidates every facet of your strategic plan, making it easy to connect siloed metrics, initiatives, and investments. This enhanced visibility clarifies the direct impact of strategic inputs on critical financial metrics, such as revenue and gross profit, demonstrating the real-world efficacy of your strategy.

By bringing all things strategy under one roof where everyone actively has a voice, you ensure your strategy is not just a document in a dusty drawer—but a dynamic and living part integrated into the organization's daily operations.

📽Watch this short video to discover how to import your business data into Cascade’s Metrics Library for data-driven decision-making. 

Seamless alignment of strategic initiatives to company goals

Cascade excels at transforming your high-level strategic visions into actionable on-the-ground initiatives, ensuring every objective and project is a step toward achieving your overarching company goals

This alignment ensures that every team member understands how their daily work contributes to the broader vision, fostering a sense of purpose and direction across the organization.

Real-time visibility into KPI performance and trends

Cascade lets you connect your disparate tools and core business metrics to one central platform. This approach makes it easy to monitor performance trends in real-time, paving the way for proactive decision-making. 

With integrations for hundreds of popular tools, you can connect your entire tech stack. This setup gives you a single source of truth in our platform. With Cascade at the helm of your strategic operations, you're not just tracking numbers—you're gaining insights that can aid strategic thinking and real-time improvements.

Automated reports and dashboards for easy communication of strategic progress

Unlike static reports that quickly become outdated, Cascade's Dashboards & Reports offer a dynamic, real-time view of your strategic performance, ensuring all data is current, accurate, and reflective of your operational reality. 

Cascade simplifies the integration of business data with strategic goals, enabling effortless sharing of actionable insights with stakeholders, suppliers, and contractors for informed decision-making.

Example of a quarterly report in Cascade
Example of a quarterly report in Cascade

Cascade Shows The Clear Value In The Role Of The CSO

Measuring the impact of your strategy is crucial; success demands continuous improvement and engagement, not a 'set-and-forget' approach, to turn your company's vision into reality.

While many reporting tools simplify data interpretation, they often fail to link KPIs directly with strategic goals—a gap Cascade expertly bridges, ensuring your metrics drive strategic alignment and success. 

As the world’s #1 strategy execution platform, Cascade addresses the gaps in traditional strategic planning solutions by centralizing the entire strategic journey. 

You can give your employees the clarity they need in their day-to-day work and show CEOs and stakeholders the value your strategy brings to the company’s overall objectives.

Ready to see how Cascade can help your company? Book a live demo.

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