Four Traits of a Successful CLO

Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) play an important role in sharpening the competitive edge of enterprises. Most large organizations have a well-defined CLO organization and even in cases where is there is no official L&D organization, there is indeed a combination of formal and informal training systems in place. Here are four qualities that a CLO must possess in order to make a difference.

1. While budgets are important and there is always a pressure to deliver more at lower costs, it is important to ask why the training department is doing what it is doing. In other words, a zero based budgeting has to happen frequently otherwise the focus shifts on doing unproductive things cheaper. The CLO has to establish a culture driven by logic.

2. CLOs should evaluate their performance on the basis of enabling other employees succeed. They should be passionate about capturing insights from across the organization and delivering these insights to those that need them at the right time.

3. As we are on the cusp of really understanding how Big Data can be used to gain useful insights for learning and performance support, a data-driven CLO is a huge asset. Experience in establishing organization-wide metrics for talent, learning and performance will be a key skill for any CLO in the coming years.

4. Ability to remove hurdles for implementing new solutions is a key requirement. The training department is often held hostage by two forces – 1. The IT Department 2. Internal Training Staff. The IT Department’s agenda when it comes to new technologies can potentially slow down or derail any plans in changing the way training and performance support is delivered. Sometimes, training staff are themselves resistant to change and see new training models and technologies as a threat to their position. Ability to convince and co-opt such forces and push through changes is a key trait to look for in a CLO.

Did I miss anything that I should consider adding to this list? Comments and suggestions are welcome.

BTW, I hope you will enjoy this Dilbert video on change management.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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Posted in Big Data, Leadership, Learning, Training

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