Greg Magnus

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Category: Corp Learning & Dev.

CLOs for Small- and Mid-sized Organizations

When Chief Learning Officer (CLO) Magazine was launched in August of 2002, the members of the Editorial Advisory Board represented the following companies: Cisco Systems, Delta Airlines, The Home Depot, IBM, International Data Corp., Marriott International, Oracle and Toyota.  You've probably heard of them.

The make-up of the Advisory Board companies made me wonder what of the experiences of CLOs for these large companies was being shared and implemented in companies that were much smaller.  Those in the role of CEO, COO, CFO and often CIO at large organizations have a counterpart in most small and mid-sized businesses.  The CLO, though, is someone typically found only in the largest of the large. 

I cringe because small- and mid-sized businesses can greatly benefit from having someone to instill a true learning culture early-on.  Through the earlier stages of growth a culture is more pliable and technology is more reasonable.  Compensation structures can be tweaked to be more effective at rewarding the right behaviors and learning tools and methodology that supports those behaviors can be tested and refined.

Small- and mid-sized organizations can quickly capitalize on the fact that 75-80% of the information that employees need to do their job comes from their network (i.e. asking someone a question) and on-the-job experiences (i.e. intranet, Google, searchable eLearning, podcasts, etc.).  The remaining 20-25% is comprised of workshops, manuals, seminars, etc. and what are often the go-to vehicles for large training departments.

Knowing this and structuring learning and development around it while still nimble creates a strategic advantage that will pay dividends throughout the lifecycle of the organization.  Appoint someone, internal or external, part-time or full-time, CLO or any other title, to oversee the learning and development in your organization and to ensure that it provides employees with the knowledge, skills and mindsets to further you along your strategic plan.  And keep in mind that this is rarely accomplished through the modes of traditional training.  Having this mindset early will help as processes, systems and culture are refined and matured.

Jargon at Work Alienates Staff – Survey

I remember the days. Management presentations filled with meaningless jargon. I never knew what they we’re talking about. It appears I wasn’t the only one. A recent study suggests jargon just doesn’t cut it in the office environment.

According to the study (details can be found at the link below), management jargon can alienate staff and leave bosses looking untrustworthy and weak.

Managers who spoke of “singing from the same hymn sheet” could find themselves singing solo, the survey by Investors in People said. Read the full story here: Heads up, blue sky thinking can alienate staff – Yahoo! News

[tags] jargon, Investors in People,, eoecho [/tags]

The Role of a Chief Learning Officer

The first official use of the term ‘Chief Learning Officer’ in reference to a position was in 1993.  Ever since then, the CLO role has been creeping into the corporate landscape and org chart.

In an ideal setting, a CLO aligns all of the learning and development activities of the organization with the organization’s strategic goals.  It’s not about getting people to attend classes or view eLearning – it’s getting the workforce the knowledge, skills and mindsets that they need to perform and this is usually not done in a classroom or in front of a computer.

Learning professionals often talk about getting “a seat at the table” or ongoing access to those running the company so that learning and development can complement the strategic plan.  A CLO can provide this access by establishing a senior-level role dedicated to the learning and development of the organization’s entire value-chain. 

As of a few months ago, only 5% of the Fortune 500 had appointed a CLO.  It will take executives witnessing the power of effective learning and development before we start to see the number of CLOs begin to rise.  As learning and development moves away from the more formal, traditional training and towards learning and development that is ingrained into the workflow of everyday life I am confident this will happen.  At many companies it already is.

CLOs are business people that also understand how people learn and develop.  They can speak to a CFO as easily as they can to a facilitator.  CLOs are responsible for the business of learning and development and they manage learning and development expenditures as any other business manager would – as investments that must make a return.

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