The Evolution of the CLO

It’s been almost a quarter century since the formalization of the position of chief learning officer: In 1994, Jack Welch made Steve Kerr the CLO of General Electric. Of course, senior managers, often within human resources, had been responsible for workplace training for decades prior to the creation of the CLO role. This was more of an emblematic recognition of the importance of learning within a successful business. A dedicated executive was necessary to make sure the organization could continue to find the best ways to develop employee knowledge and skills.

The world of workplace learning has experienced seismic change over the past 25-plus years. Technology has evolved. New principles have been introduced. Even the way people do their work has fundamentally changed.

But what has happened to the CLO during this period? Has the role kept pace with the evolving needs of the workplace? How have the skills required to be an effective CLO changed? And perhaps the most important question of all: Does a modern business even need a CLO to enable the future of work?

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