The CLO’s Critical Role: Adding Value to the Organization

The demanding role of the CLO is rapidly changing. Recently, Tamar Elkeles, chief learning officer for QUALCOMM, and I had the pleasure of presenting a session based on our research and experience of the chief learning officer’s critical role. This is the

The landscape of learning and performance improvement has changed in recent years. Continuous learning is no longer taken for granted. Today, it is expected and supported. More executives are investigating the value of increased expenditures for learning and how such spending aligns with their businesses. The CLO is responsible for a variety of different types of learning processes, solutions and outcomes in the organization. Today’s successful CLO must satisfy the needs of an impatient executive group and anxious stakeholders, as well as the business needs of the organization and the learning needs of many individuals. The consequences of failure can be quite significant. The current movement in CLO positions underscores the challenges and opportunities faced by this important group. While there are many different CLO models, each with its own variety of expectations, the value-add component is always there.

We have identified eight critical areas of focus:

  • Creating the strategy and setting the appropriate investment level.
  • Aligning the learning enterprise with the business.
  • Improving individual and organizational performance.
  • Designing efficient and effective delivery strategies.
  • Managing the learning enterprise as a business.
  • Developing productive partnerships.
  • Managing organizational talent for business growth.
  • Demonstrating value of the learning enterprise.

Before examining the research, CLOs should take the following assessment, outlining the current situations of their organizations. This self-assessment should be taken openly and candidly. The self-scoring mechanism at the end provides general guidelines in terms of the current conditions within the organization.

CLO Assessment: A Value-Added Approach
For each of the following statements, please circle the response that best matches the learning processes and programs at your organization. If none of the answers describe the situation, select the one that best fits.

To take the assessment, go to

Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D., is chairman of the ROI Institute. He developed and pioneered the ROI process and has written more than 15 books on the subject. Jack can be reached at

October 2004 Table of Contents