Thursday, September 21

What's a CLO to do?

Recently I've had the circumstances to discuss the role of a CLO in a couple different environment. With the new input I've discussed and pondered, I've come to a high level definition of what a CLO's responsibilities are. Would love feedback from anyone who cares to chime in by commenting on this post.

The Role of a Chief Learning Officer

A CLO’s responsibility is to create an environment in which all involved are meeting the company expectations for performance and are exceeding their personal value proposition. Creation of this learning culture must be executed in a fashion that is effective, of the highest quality, efficient and meets or exceeds the company’s financial expectations for the work.

How does a CLO meet this responsibility? By providing:
RESOURCES – What type of resource (printed, online, people, tuition reimbursement, etc.) will vary. What is vital about resources is that they be up-to-date, accurate, timely and accessible.

TRAINING - At times people want and/or need to be taught directly. Training should be clearly aligned with enterprise and personal expectations.

CONNECTIONS – The CLO helps people connect with one another to enable learning between people. This would include work teams, affinity groups, professional practice networks, expertise databases, collaboration tools, techniques to enhance interpersonal communication.

CONSISTENCY – Consistency helps people anticipate what is likely to happen in a given situation. Being able to predict accurately what will happen, creates a pleasurable reaction in the human brain that counteracts any fear that my be arising because of change. Consistency must be achieved both horizontally and vertically.
Horizontal – This is consistency across training offering or the design of online learning modules. When content, processes, or situations are created to share common components, the resulting consistency provides the learner with the opportunity to focus on the real tasks, rather than being mired in trying to figure out how a book is written or how a software program can be installed on their computer.

Vertically – Vertical consistency can be subtle (everyone using the same terms for equipment and tools) or very overt (assuring that skills being taught to entry level associates is the same as the skills managers are being told to evaluate). This also includes the idea of walking the talk. If you say you want people to take risks, then don’t punish failure. If you want an open and host work environment, don’t reward information hoarding or ridicule someone for asking a “stupid question.”
FEEDBACK - Whether in the form of formal evaluations or surveys, after action reviews, or simply deproccessing the day’s events, a company has to practice being reflective. Self-reflection is difficult as individuals. When group-think settles in options and possibilities begin to shut down.


Donald Clark said...

Good post Dave. I would also add that the CLO needs to define the learning strategy by developing a design for the future. Where is the company now when it comes to learning and where to they want to go in the near and far future?

Dave Lee said...

Thanks Donald. I'd agree with you to a certain point. The CLO's design for the future can only go as far as the company's design for the future. Learning and Development exists in the service of the acheivement of the company's strategic objectives.

Until the leadership of the company set the overall strategy, the CLO can't determine the learning needs of the company's workforce. Now if the CLO is a member of that team, they can participate by painting possible scenarios which investments in learning infrastructure or resources might make possible. But the focus should be on core business objectives, not learning objectives.

By dedicating the funds to a corporate university this year, we could accelerate Jose's work on creating a new brand by 18 months (increase in revenue = $4.1 million), Janet's modernization of the supply chain by 6 months (decrease in inventory related costs = $1.1 million, and have every home office employee to proficiency with the new paperless business processes initiative in 2 month (decreased spending = $500,000). While the investmet at first seems large at $1.6 million, the $5.7 million my colleagues believe they would bring to the bottom line more than justify the expense.

By dedicating the funds to a corporate university this year, we will be setting the foundation for the future. Over the next 5 years we will be able to save $1.8 million in travel related costs for training. Companies who have created corporate universities have see an increase in retention of the overall employee population and less executive and managerial turnover. we project that similar results would save the company $1.5 million over the first 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Hi David: Having been CLO twice I learned that the strategic level has a few guideposts.

One is that you are responsible for every brain in the company. When they all leave Friday nite and the parking lot is empty, the company is gone. The CEO and other Executives have the job of making sure there is a company and a reason to come back on Monday.

The CLO is responsible for making sure that when they come back, they come back to a company that provides the opportunities for them to learn what they need to do their job. The upshot is it's your job to raise the Corporate IQ every year, day-by-day, program-by-program.

The other key tyhing I learned is that it's also important, while you're at it, to constantly look for ways for people to collaborate and communicate, share their informal learning as much as possible.

Being fiscally responsible also means lowering the cost of knowledge at the same time.

That's what I think a CLO does at the strategic level - everything else flows from there.

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