The new chief on the block

CLO should focus on business results, not just training
By Scott Williams
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/24/2007

A chief learning officer (CLO) worthy of the C-suite is more than a specialist in the realization of human potential and senior advocate of learning and skill development. A CLO must be about three things: Business results, performance accountability and organizational transformation.

Learning for the sake of learning may be a valued commodity, but that view belongs in academia. In the corporate world, learning isn’t an end in itself. Instead, learning and skill development are points of leverage on the way to achieving organizational objectives.

Learning outcomes must be tied to business results, so each learning initiative needs a bottom line — a desired behaviour, outcome or result. Bottom-line results are not necessarily financial, measured in terms of revenue or profit, but must be tied to business objectives. A non-financial objective in the private sector might be to reduce an organization’s environmental footprint or to increase an organization’s community involvement. Non-financial measures in the public sector might include hospital wait times, military effectiveness, environmental controls or public safety and security.