Harvard Business Review

Here’s Why Strategy Chiefs Succeed or Fail

Foto: Modelfoto Foto: Niels Hougaard

Why do some companies have great heads of strategy who make an outstanding contribution to their companies while others don’t? To answer this question, we evaluated a sample of 55 different heads of strategy. Here’s what we learned:

— THE PERSON’S CAPABILITIES SHOULD FIT THE CHALLENGES FACING THE ORGANIZATION AT THE TIME: Consider Staples, the office-supplies retailer, which had tumbled from being the market leader to being a third of the new leader’s size by 1992. The existing management team had not addressed a range of issues, including required changes to store sizes and product range. Founder and CEO Tom Stemberg hired John Wilson as head of strategy and chief financial officer to turn things around. Wilson was an industry outsider, whom Stemberg described as an "in-your-face kind of guy.” He was exactly what the business needed: He rammed through required changes in strategy, which helped the company nearly quadruple its revenues over the next four years...

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