Strategist is the person performing the activities associated with business strategy planning. There are various kinds of strategists in any kind of organization like board of directors, chief executive officer, entrepreneurs, senior management, SBU-level executives, corporate planning staff, consultants, middle level manager, and executive assistants. Each one plays a different role in an organization.
The major responsibilities of a strategist are:
- First, he must assume the responsibility to develop a plan to complete the strategy activities, the plan must be initiated, dates set, deadlines established, and the process must be monitored to ensure that the deadlines are met.
- Second, basic assumptions about forecasts, economic indicators, technology, and general industry competitiveness must be agreed on and communicated to the functional areas. Procedures must be developed to assure uniformity in the development of the plan. Responsibility for undertaking fundamental studies and valuation of special matters necessary to strategic planning must be assumed.
- Third, the functional areas must actively participate by providing basic underlying data, information, and in some cases specific studies and evaluations. The objectives established by the functional areas must be analyzed and compared to those established for the entire firm. The inputs from the functional areas must also reviewed for major problems, contradictions, gaps, omissions, conflicts and inconsistencies.
- Fourth, training and assistance must be made available to functional areas that do not have the experience or staff to perform their strategic activities well. This is especially true for the firms initiating formal strategic planning for the first time, or new firms. Responsibility must be allocated in such a fashion that someone stands ready to help the functional areas upon request with substantive problems, forecasts, and studies.
Fundamentally, then, responsibility for coordinating and integrating of the strategic planning function must be assigned. However, the responsibility does not stop there. It also includes instigation of the planning process, simulation of creativity and innovation, and providing support studies and advice to others involved in strategic planning.
Roles of Strategist
A powerful strategist plays the major important roles like sooth sayer, sculptor, politician, guru and jail buster.
- A strategist must be a soothsayer or seer who helps his team to imagine the future world within which they will be competing. They begin by reading the palm of the organisation and also identify its competencies and unique strengths. They then use the crystal ball of scenarios, and imaginative thinking to help the team to visualise the future within which the business will operate.
- A strategist should also be a sculptor like an artist ‘who carves a form’ out of raw materials. The sculptor strategist creates a unique role or purpose for the organisation. They predict the reason why the organisation will be successful within the soothsayer’s imagined future. The sculptor begins by defining the organisation’s future target markets. They then provide the future shape of the organisation by defining why its future customers will choose to support it, rather than any future imagined competitor. So the strategist changes systems, structures, rewards, alliances, products and services to ensure that everything supports the organisational purpose.
- A politician is someone who is ‘skilled in the art of manoeuvring and manipulation.’ The politician strategist knows the power players in the organisation. They know what drives each leader and they also know who is motivated by what external and internal factors.
- A guru is ‘a person who gives personal spiritual guidance to his disciples.’ The strategist guru, shows how each individual employee in the company, can contribute to the greater, noble goal. They help individual employees to discover their inimitable personal purpose. Then they show them how to channel their energy and talent towards living their purpose, whilst acting in ways that support the company’s goal.
- A strategist must also plays a role of jail buster, while at work, many employees find that their talents, passions, creativity, imagination, and energy are locked behind bars of the company culture. Timid managers who want to ‘be in control’, and ‘avoid making mistakes’, often hide the keys to creativity, energy, passion, self-assurance, and innovation. The jail buster strategist shows employees how to break out from their prison of tediousness and fear without alerting their fearful managers. They provide the key to unlocking their talents, creativity, and energy.
- How strategists lead (McKinsey & Company)