Chief visionary officer

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A chief visionary officer (CVO) is a function within a company established beside the other executive functions like CEO or COO. The CVO is expected to have a broad and comprehensive knowledge of all matters related to the business of the organization, as well as the vision required to steer its course into the future. The person in charge must have the core-competencies of every business-executive, but in addition the visionary ideas must move the company forward. These are used as the basis for defining corporate strategies and working plans.

Chief Visionary Officer (CVO) is a new title being used in corporations to differentiate the holder from other corporate executives including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the Chief Information Officer (CIO), and the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). The title is sometimes used to formalize a high-level advisory position and other times used to define a higher ranking position than that held by the CEO. In some cases, the CVO is added to the CEO title (for CEO/CVO status), much in the same way that people with multiple university degrees list them after their names.

The role has expanded to include formalizing the company’s strategic-planning processes, forging new working relationships and synergies across the organization, and establishing greater transparency and accountability for those people carrying out the company’s strategy.

Companies are adding CVOs(sometimes interchangeable with CSO - Chief Strategy Officer) to their management teams (or at least considering doing so) for several reasons. Start with changes to the business landscape—complex organizational structures, rapid globalization, new regulations, the struggle to innovate—that make it ever more difficult for CEOs to be on top of everything, even an area as important as strategy execution and vision direction. By nearly all accounts, strategy development has become a continuous, not periodic, process. Successful execution, therefore, depends more than ever on rapid and effective decision making. Further, as Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Bower has noted in these pages, iron-fisted control of execution often eludes the top team’s grasp, as line executives seek to define strategy on their own terms. (See Bower and Clark G. Gilbert’s “How Managers’ Everyday Decisions Create—or Destroy—Your Company’s Strategy,” February 2007.)

Internet pioneer Einar Stefferud is ususally recognized as the first CVO co-founder and CVO of First Virtual Holdings in 1994.. Another early CVO was Tim Roberts of Broadband Investment Group. Roberts said[citation needed] he invented the title as a rank that served to recognize the visionary attributes needed to integrate a complex business with many diverse aspects. Roberts chose the title solely as definitive of his role in the organization, and didn't intend the designation to proliferate across the corporate world in the way that it has.

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