What’s on the minds of CLOs?

What’s on the minds of CLOs?

Posted by Amy A. Titus and Josh Haims on December 3, 2013

Through our work and discussion with well over a hundred Chief Learning Officers (CLOs), we’ve observed their increasing interest in understanding the many moving forces that are impacting the marketplace and workplace on a global level. There’s a sense that CLOs, like the world around them, are in motion. We examine five forces below that are contributing to this concept of moving forces.

Reconciling global and local
We’re seeing a new urgency around a conversation that’s been ongoing for several years — the topic is how to organize and scale learning operations to support the global enterprise; the urgency is around knowing what actually works. How are companies achieving consistency across the enterprise but still allowing flexibility for certain regions, businesses, or disciplines? It’s a far more strategic conversation today about the complex process of building and sustaining a workable, agile learning operation.

Thriving in a VUCA world
CLOs are keenly aware of the need to help the organization’s people adapt and perform despite the persistent VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment businesses are operating in. One concept they’re embracing is the idea of using “Moments that Matter” to help people make small-scale changes to respond to changes in the environment. Rather than a complex change program that might be required for a large-scale transformation, Moments that Matter is a simple but powerful set of ways to identify critical situations and then help people acquire the behaviors they need to perform in these different kinds of settings.

Capitalizing on technology investments and innovations
Virtually every part of the organization, learning included, is affected by the pace and magnitude of changing technologies. From the cloud to social media to handheld devices, technology has dramatically changed the way many people work and expanded the possibilities for helping them learn. The ability to push out learning to smartphones, for example, or to make learning available in bite-sizes or “just in time” has tremendous implications for getting people the skills, knowledge, and support to make better decisions at the right time.

On a broader technology scale is the potential to use analytics to harness workforce and learning data to make better decisions about where and how to deploy learning resources. This is closely tied to overall workforce planning, asking, “What are the critical skills our people need in general, and how will the organization manage the leadership pipeline and succession in particular?”

Reaching the generations
We’ve been talking about the impact of generational differences on the workplace for years now. For CLOs today, that discussion is about acknowledging that the generations learn differently and bring different expectations to the workplace, and figuring out how these differences can be accommodated and incorporated into learning plans, curricula, and career paths.

Designing the customer experience
CLOs increasingly understand that learners are the customers of the learning organization, and as such, deserve to have an outstanding customer experience. They’re looking to borrow some of the organizational expertise from other functions (marketing, sales, customer service) that are adept at studying and crafting positive customer experiences. The intent is to replace disconnected learning events with a more “cradle to grave” holistic learning experience across the employment life cycle.

At the same time CLOs are working to understand their organizations’ learning needs, they are also working to develop their own skills, challenging themselves to become stronger leaders. In our next post, we’ll discuss the “Four Faces of the CLO” — a model that encourages CLOs to analyze their development areas, understand sources of resistance, and discover how to improve their personal performance.

In the meantime, is your learning organization having these same discussions? Which of the points we’ve mentioned are top of mind in your organization? Please weigh in on the quick poll below and/or add a comment. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Amy Titus Amy A. Titus is a director in Human Capital within the Talent, Performance and Rewards group of Deloitte Consulting LLP. She is responsible for bringing talent, learning, organization improvement, and change solutions to her clients.

Josh Haims Josh Haims is a principal in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, with more than 14 years of human capital consulting experience. He currently leads Deloitte’s learning and development practice and is the co-lead of the global learning services team.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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