Assessing the Chief Learning Officer Role

strategy planning and development solutions

What is the role of the Chief Learning Officer and how important is it?

One of the major findings in the Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report by Deloitte University was the recognition of the importance of learning and development around building skills and capabilities to support organizational transformation.

The chief learning officer is responsible for these transformative changes and never before has it been more important to have a CLO who can visualize and innovate the design and development of an enterprise wide learning strategy.

According to, “a chief learning officer (CLO) is a senior-level executive who ensures that a company's corporate learning program and strategy supports its overall business goals.”

Recognizing the bottom line benefit and increase in productivity and creativity when formal and informal are in place, it becomes evident that planning a learning strategy that integrates with organizational goals is tantamount to overall success.

The IBM Research Report on the Strategic Value of Learning states:

  • …learning is seen by senior executives to have a significant impact on a number of business outcomes, including revenue, productivity, turnover, and innovation. Learning can help enable overall business success.

Add to that the findings of a study by Personnel Decisions International that surveyed 90 CEOs asking them what their biggest business challenges are and they reported recruitment, retention, and talent management issues as their 2nd biggest challenge.

How then can a strategic initiative encompass all enterprise learning needs for all job functions and staff levels?

Taking a close look at the role of the CLO may help. According to Bersin, most organizations (70% or more) don’t have a CLO. As a result, there isn’t a leadership presence around learning or clarity on how to meet the learning, knowledge and engagement needs of the organization.

If support for a CLO isn’t possible right now in your organization, identify how learning providers can take a leadership role and work toward managing a learning function that shows its value and benefit in productivity, turnover, and recruitment. Be sure to work across the enterprise, to consult with all divisions and ask them what their needs are around meeting departmental and individual performance goals.

An organization that recognizes learning plays a key role in individual performance success, and understands that learning programs need to be global across the organization and promoted from the top down will employ engaged employees and meet its goals. Without the presence of a CLO this can be accomplished by structuring the learning organization to approach learning strategically.

From a high-level, big picture lens, the role of a CLO is to:

  1. Provide leadership and direction in planning how staff learning needs align to organizational goals

  2. Identify and determine what learning, skills and knowledge needs are required by individual, and job type function

  3. Direct the development of learning programs to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to improve their job competencies

  4. Create an environment ready for both formal and informal learning

  5. Establish processes to monitor the development, and delivery of learning, while maintaining a continuous learning environment to ensure employee performance success

  6. Measure learning’s success in relation to organizational goals to determine the ROI of learning

Call Knowledge Advantage @ 860.256.7879 to support your learning function around strategic planning as an interim CLO. Knowledge Advantage can help create a learning blueprint. email

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