Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chief Learning Officer and the Chief Talent Officer - Natural Evolution or the End

I got to participate in a virtual meeting this week with two people from a leading executive recruiting firm. They shared their perspective on what firms were looking for in relation to Chief Learning Officer positions. While there were a number of interesting insights and perspectives about CLOs based upon their recruiting experience. The one that caught my attention was this one statement.

"In the last year and half, I have conducted one CLO search, but 15 Chief Talent Officer (CTO) searches."

For me, that leads to a number of questions about the profession I have chosen...

- Is the CLO still relevant?

- Is the CTO replacing the CLO?

- Is there something that CLOs are not doing that is needed?

First, I think there is still a significant role for the CLO in enabling execution of business and mission strategy. As key strategic human capital capabilities, the CLO will support those by providing business-aligned and high-impact learning solutions that enable such key capabilities as collaboration, speed, and innovation in organizations. The CLO will have to determine their role in developing these they leverage social networks and informal learning as other learning tools in the toolkit.

There is evidence that the CLO may need to do a better job in aligning learning to business. The current economic situation drove this home as cost-cutting became critical. But the need to do detailed planning of how to align learning resources and initiatives to business strategy has been a constant and consistent message to learning professionals. While a number of companies come to mind that are leaders in their ability to do this, like Cisco, IBM, and Bank of America, there are indications that significant room exists for improvement.

A survey report by the Masie Learning CONSORTIUM on learning governance stated:

"86% of organizations do not have an enterprise-wide plan for learning that spans the organization."

While our profession has a number of articles and conference proceedings on this topic, something prevents it from pushing forward and obtaining that position as a trusted business partner.

With this perspective in place, I don't think the CTO will replace the CLO. The CLO has their role to play supporting learning and development and the leadership development efforts at organizations. What the CTO does bring is a focus on the integrated talent management process. Developing an employee value proposition, communicating employer brand, recruiting, performance management, leadership development, succession planning, etc.

As I have discussed in my first blog post, CEOs recognize the importance of people skills in moving their organizations forward and enabling them to be successful. That requires talent. Talent that is either bought, developed or rented to execute the strategy. CEOs will continue to look for CTOs as the mechanism to position their organizations for future success. The difference between the CLO and CTO is that the CTO will focus on the integrated solution approach to developing strategic human capital capabilities. The CLO will be a part of the overall integrated solution.

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