CSO, Drive Engagement and Profit for Your Enterprise Using OKRs

July 15, 20213 min read

A significant majority of Fortune 1000 organizations suffer from a thorny problem. This problem persists among organizations that are not digital natives and have not transformed to embrace digital operating models and cultures.

The problem is rooted in antiquated industrial-era organizational designs, bureaucratic hierarchies, and attitudes towards human capital. 

If those structural impediments to organizational effectiveness can be overcome, the organization benefits: increased employee engagement, increased productivity, and improved organizational effectiveness as measured in strategic outcomes realized.

Who and what provides the solution to overcome the problem, and to realize these tremendous benefits? The Chief Strategy Officer and Objectives and Key Results .

The (thorny) problem that the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) must overcome can be described via the following points, starting with: 

The Causal Factors

Traditional firms are organized into departments or functions according to specialized job roles. These departments form rigid, locally optimized silos. 

In any large organization, coordination and collaboration across silos are essential for customer value to be delivered, and for the organization to quickly sense and respond to threats and opportunities.  

The Consequences

In traditional bureaucracies, silos harden into tribes of people, isolated on islands of data, technology, culture, rewards and collaboration. 

The silos define local goals and control rewards more efficiently than the company does with its strategic objectives. The hierarchical command structure in the silo deploys and tracks execution of goals and holds people accountable.  

– Silo priorities and goals are clear; enterprise goals are fuzzy and tracking of strategy execution is poor. Without lateral alignment, accountability is nil. The inevitable result is prioritizing the department’s parochial goals above the enterprise’s objectives. 

Finally, industrial era organizational models de-emphasize the contribution of the individual. 

– A staggering majority of knowledge workers, who drive competitiveness and innovation in the digital economy, are demotivated and disengaged (thus unproductive) in traditional businesses. 

– Fixing the horizonal alignment problem is a critical component of maximizing engagement and productivity, which will produce enormous hard financial benefits for the enterprise.  


Employees are disengaged and unclear about organizational priorities.   

Coordination and collaboration of work across and among organizational silos is extremely difficult to achieve. Ultimately, cross-functional initiatives fail more often than they succeed. The costs to the organization are immeasurable. 

CSO, it’s certainly not your fault that your company is still embracing organizational paradigms popularized in the era of Henry Ford, but it is your problem to fix! 

Poor capabilities in strategy deployment and execution, combined with structural impediments to collaboration, weigh heavily on the performance of the organization. The icing on the cake? It makes the job of the Chief Strategy Officer difficult, but there is hope.  

Even if you can’t fix the built-in organizational impediments in the short term, you can still realize significant improvements and hard financial benefits by embracing new methods for strategy and employee engagement in the short-to-medium term. 

To overcome the impediments the organization throws at the CSO, the CSO and their partners in leadership must overcome their challenges by implementing more effective strategy deployment and execution methodologies. 

What is this methodology?  

The ideal methodology and processes come from implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). OKRs produce alignment, focus, and improve employee engagement and motivation to increase productivity. Ultimately, OKRs maximize the efficient realization of the enterprises’ strategic objectives. 

Huge financial benefits that accrue from higher employee productivity stem directly from increased employee motivation and engagement through OKRs. We can also demonstrate a reduction in “strategy decay” in strategy deployment and execution, resulting in: 

  1. Employees focusing on the most impactful work
  2. Aligning with other functions and teams
  3. Increased collaboration and cooperation overall

This triad produces a powerful combination of increased efficiency and effectiveness demonstrated in the organization delivering the strategic outcomes for stakeholders that maximize enterprise value.

Interested in learning more? 

Check out our whitepaper,  How the Chief Strategy Officer Drives Multi-Axis Alignment. It expands on the themes from this blog and gives CSOs a clear working blueprint for horizontal alignment.  You can download it here.