CLO, the great transmission belt in the gear of digitization



Innovation in its broadest sense and digital transformation have become key in business strategy, especially in larger companies. A time of change in which processes must be fine-tuned to be applied throughout the organization as efficiently as possible. In this context, a new key figure appears to articulate and grease all that machinery of digital transformation. Its about ‘Chief Learning Officer’ (CLO), ‘learning facilitators’ increasingly integrated into organizations, turned into true brains of the transmission of innovative knowledge and its implementation.

Their tasks go beyond mere training. These professionals have to be proactive in times of ‘agile’ methodologies (speed, flexibility, operability) to optimize the “increase value-reduce costs” equation. Tomas Manso, CLO de Correos, points out how this figure «links the business strategy with the learning strategy, anticipating possible organizational and business needs. Correos is immersed in a transformation process that requires new skills in its professionals and change management, where training occupies a dimension of the first magnitude. To do this, the role defines organizational policies and executes the future plan so that people adapt to the new business requirements.

The manager highlights the importance of developing capacities such as strategic vision, knowledge of sector strategy, talent management and cultural change and learning strategy, as well as delving into aspects of ‘L&D’ (‘Learning and Development’, ‘Learning and Development’). Concepts that already transcend mere training, since they must be implemented in the most natural way possible, as commented Beatriz Garcia Gonzalez, from the Teamlabs learning labs platform: «It is not enough to educate and train people, the CLO of the 21st century is called upon to overcome the concept, deeply rooted in corporate culture, that learning is synonymous with training, ”explains the spokesperson for this learning and innovation laboratory.

Rory Simpson, Chief Executive Learning Officer of Telefónica, underlines the importance of the «human factor»: «The point is that learning is everything, and this function provides vital support to the company and its people. And the role of the CLO is to allow people to be the best versions of themselves.. If people grow, the company grows. Our future as a company depends on it. We have to embrace technology, but not become it. We have to be more human than ever. Simpson also points out (from a figurative point of view) the essence of the figure of the CLO: “We are the air, the oxygen so that this diverse ecosystem of people can prosper, improve and can be as human as possible. Without the figure of the CLO, this company is just a ‘telco’. It is the essence of learning, improvement, adaptation and, therefore, survival.

Along this joint path, it is important to convey a clear idea of ​​the company’s projection, as Manso emphasizes: “I capture the needs directly to transfer them to the team, which has a large dose of autonomy from a clear vision of what the business needs.” A task that is based on guidelines such as the ‘data driven’ learning or the LMS (‘Learning Management System’) and areas such as Scrum and Kanban, applied to an improvement in capacities and functionalities of the organization, in times of continuous learning.

A task so strategic that in Correos it has meant, according to Manso, “a complete redesign of the organization and the projects of the Training team. Since 2019, a complete reorganization of the department has been carried out to bring it closer to the business». Where appropriate, the ‘Solutions’ area in charge of the pedagogical design of the new itineraries has been promoted to integrate the most current learning methodologies and industrialize the tested solutions to gain efficiency. Management and communication merge in a process that is very technological, but does not detach from the ‘human centric’.

Train the trainer

One proof that the figure of the CLO is beginning to grow in companies is that it has already made the leap into the academic world. Together with the University of Mondragon, Teamlabs has created a course for these professionals. Training for trainers that crystallizes in the Diploma of Specialization in Chief Learning Officer, the first official European title (it is now in its third edition).

Aimed at “professionals in the areas of Innovation, HR, Talent and Training in corporations, startups and / or third sector organizations”, it has specialists in issues such as learning and innovation ecosystems and project design. The objective: to train new skills from the figure of the ‘learning Advisor’, which was in charge of the educational organization of a corporation.

Beatriz García stresses that training programs like this one take into account the transversal skills: «To facilitate learning and high performance in organizational teams, it is key to train some ‘soft skills’ that are not learned if they are not practiced. The practice of facilitation with other people improves assertive communication, empathy or the ability to provide teams with safe environments to learn and innovate.

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