March 31 2014

Leadership for Corporate Learning: A New Breed of CLO

Written by Lambda Solutions

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cloToday’s Chief Learning Officer (CLO), needs to be a blend of CLO and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Some have suggested a new "Chief Learning Architect" title, but is that really all that different from the old model of CLO? Maybe. The danger is in tilting too close to the technology side and forgetting the organizational development roots of this important company function. Both sides of the house are important and a strong CLO must wear both hats at all times.

There is no denying that the tool kit most CLOs have been equipped with needs updating. A lot. In many ways, it is the technology market place that has dictated this new skill set. There are an overwhelming number of product choices and the selection is changing rapidly. Learning management systems, MOOCs, simulation tools, content management systems, collaborative learning, video sharing, mobile learning, on-demand learning, new forms of assessment, and the use of big data are all changing rapidly. Your CLO needs to be able to wade through the sea of products to find the perfect fit for the organization. Not sure what is best for your organization? We'd be more than happy to demo a couple of our favorite tools.

Leadership for Corporate Learning: The Pitfalls

There are two scenarios you don’t want to see. First, there is the CLO who is absolutely mystified and/or intimidated by the shear volume of products available. Paralysis ensues. Or, second—and in some ways this is worse—your head of learning is an enthusiastic technology junky who is always most enamored with the latest and greatest toy out there--something she/he feels your organization just has to have! That can lead to a lot of money spent for not great results. Eventually, you end up with layer upon layer of poorly aligned technologies, along with the necessary fixes and patches. Although an open-platform LMS will ease a lot of the integration and scalability issues.

Critical CLO Objectives

Today, the best CLOs are acquainted with leading edge technology/media, tempered by a true understanding of an organization’s learning and development needs and the most up to date understanding of learning theories. The most effective CLOs take both sides of this equation and come up with a plan that best suits the needs at hand.

This means potentially hours of exploration by your CLO and team to make sure every possible avenue has been investigated. Think of their work as a funnel where a wide range of data about learning platforms, etc. is poured in at the top to be narrowed down at the bottom to the technology the organization needs.

Your CLO needs to be equally thorough in an exploration of the organization. What are the learning needs? Where does the content expertise sit? How many learners and how broadly dispersed are they? What are the audit requirements for industry regulators?

When the two sets of information are brought together, the building begins. Here is where “architecture” may be a relevant term. Your CLO must ensure that the best structure is put in place to support the organization’s specific learning needs today and into the future. This requires expertise in learning theory, organizational understanding, technology acumen and systems thinking. Above all, true leadership ability is required to bring all the pieces together.

A recent study by Deloitte found that US spending on corporate training grew by 15% last year (the highest growth rate in seven years) to over $70 Billion in the US and over $130 Billion worldwide. Clearly, the CLO role is becoming increasingly important. In this new age of learning, let’s make sure the executive in charge has the right tools for the job.

We have dedicated our next webinar to the topic of eLearning and corporate training, so register today.

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