The Top 5 Topics on CSO Minds as We Close Out the Year

At Outthinker, we are fortunate to work with an incredible group of chief strategy officers of $1B+ companies that we call the Outthinker Strategy Network. Strategy officers are known for their keen ability to recognize macro trends, new business models, and shifting customer needs across the scope of their entire organization and translate long-term vision into action.

To know what they are focused on is to get a broad sense of what you can expect now and in the years to come. So, what are these strategic leaders thinking about this year and projecting as we move into the new year? Based on thought leader roundtable participation and rankings, here are the top 5 topics on CSO minds for this year and beyond:

1. Moving beyond fear to achieve the organization’s full potential: International levels of fear and uncertainty had been growing before the global pandemic, but the past two years have intensified it. However, the pandemic made it more acceptable to live with uncertainty and determine how to move past it. Management consultant, author, and entrepreneur John Hagel spoke to our strategy network about identifying, facing, and moving beyond fear—by developing an inspiring long-term view of opportunities ahead, cultivating personal passions to motivate those around you, and using the potential of platforms to bring people together and accelerate impact.

Book recommendation: The Journey Beyond Fear

2. Driving innovation by activating collaboration among employees and ecosystem partners: Great innovative leaders of the future won’t fit the traditional definition of “good” leadership. Rather than providing direction and inspiring others to follow, they will set the stage on which employees are both willing and able to innovate. Harvard leadership scholar Linda Hill addressed the strategy network to share how this new generation of leaders can unleash and harness the “collective genius” of the people they lead.

Book recommendation: Collective Genius

3. Shifting to the membership economy and subscription business models: Companies across industries are choosing to focus on the transition to long-lasting, formal relationships instead of one-time transactional models. Strategy consultant and marketing expert Robbie Kellman Baxter met with members of the network to discuss how to build subscription business models that lead to deeper customer relationships and breakthrough growth.

Book recommendation: The Membership Economy

4. Overcoming resistance to new ideas and influencing leadership: Getting people to buy into our ideas is a challenge that any person who wants to have impact within their organization confronts daily. For CSOs, the ability to skillfully overcome the influence challenge is arguably one of the most important skills to hone. Creating value depends on the ability to influence leadership to consider and embrace new approaches, mindsets, and technologies. David Schonthal, Clinical Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, joined us to share practical ways to overcome the psychological barriers that work against innovation and strategies to get people to adopt new perspectives and ideas.

Book recommendation: The Human Element

5. Leading digital transformation: The term “Digital Transformation” carries too many meanings and implications to be easily understood. Paul Nunes, Global Managing Director of Thought Leadership for Accenture Research, has taken on the challenge of taming the subject. He shared his concept of the “wise pivot,” a replicable strategy for harnessing disruption and finding new sources of trapped value that will help organizations survive, grow, and stay relevant in the future.

Book recommendation: Pivot to the Future

Enjoy this list of trends and recommended reading as you refine your 2022 strategy. For a full list of the strategic topics we’ve covered this year, or for more information about the Outthinker Strategy Network, visit

Photo by Daniel Frank from Pexels

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