Preparing for the APG ‘think like a CSO’ event, hosted and made possible by Mintel, made me think about how I think. Which may be a greater level of introspection than any of us should really be indulging in, but it was a useful exercise nonetheless.

I came to a few conclusions…

I think a lot about whether I’m doing enough. What can I say? I’m paranoid/diligent, and I spend an awful lot of time wondering about whether I’m really adding value. It’s probably the thing that drives me most – a desire to make a difference. And as CSO, that does become a more complicated question. It’s not just about coming up with ideas for clients. It’s about whether you’re thinking enough about the future of your business and discipline. This must be, in my mind, the prerequisite for being considered ‘any good’.

I think about making connections. When trying to solve problems, I think as much about who I can talk to as I do about what I can talk about. Strategy is, after all, a social discipline, and for me, at least, it’s all about finding people who might have the missing pieces that will help make my hunches and half ideas into proper interesting strategies.

I think about people. As CSO, I spend a lot of time thinking about whether our Strategists are happy, challenged, engaged, creative and performing. I probably think about this more than anything else. It’s a huge challenge, but ultimately the thing that makes the biggest difference to the agency’s strategic output. Because they do more thinking collectively than I can do individually.

I think about the future. A CSO’s role is to work out what might happen next and I spend time worrying (constructively) about the future of our industry with various kinds of automation presenting threats to the role of the human brain in helping clients solve their strategic problems. I haven’t thought of the answer yet.

But ultimately, I don’t think enough. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of doing, a lot of typing and tapping, but nowhere near enough actually thinking in my days. There is perhaps only so much you can do, but I think from here, one of the things I will do is to try and carve out a bit more space and time to actually think like a CSO.

Craig-MawdsleyFor Craig it all began at Bath University with a Business degree and then a 10 year stint at Saatchi & Saatchi, working on most of the brands in the agency, including Visa, Sony, T-Mobile, Norwich Union and P&G. For the next 10 years at AMV, Craig has led the strategy on Dulux, Royal Mail, Mercedes, Sainsbury’s, The National Lottery, BT, The Economist, EDF Energy, Eurostar, The Met Police, Dixons Retail Group and Cancer Research UK. Craig is one of the few planners to have won the Grand Prix at APG and The Marketing Society and the Marketing Week Engage Awards.

Think like a CSO event series. Alongside the Account Planning Group, Mintel have asked four top CSOs to prepare a strategic presentation and pull it apart to show how it is done. Attendees will see a CSO at work and follow how they think and construct an argument, using data to build that argument. Delegates will also be exposed to different presentation styles and approaches used by senior people and different ways of building a strategy presentation. Find out more about the next Think like a CSO session here.