There is another C-suite executive role in the mix, the Chief Learning Officer, or CLO. Often people wonder what this role entails since it is relatively new-ish to the mix of C-suite positions.

Organizations that value learning, building leadership talent, and fostering employee development – really value it, not just give it lip service – are more apt to house such a position. CLOs are a hallmark feature of firms with innovative human resource practices. Steve Kerr, at GE under Welch, was one of the first well-known CLOs.

CLOs, with a keen eye on their firm’s business strategy, work to ensure their firm’s investment in human capital continues to help their firm “win” in the marketplace. Learning interventions, using appropriate media and methods, are one of their responsibilities along with cultural change interventions supporting the firm’s corporate strategy. CLOs also use talent mobility strategies to hone their employees’ business-relevant competencies by designing meaningful work experiences.

Relatedly, some firms possess a Chief Knowledge Officer position. In the contemporary knowledge-based economy, many organizations realize that effectively housing, dispersing, analyzing, and more importantly sharing knowledge across all levels of their organization and across all functional units is paramount to success.

Virtually building and sharing explicit knowledge (i.e., codified, formal information) is easier to accomplish today given advances in technology. However, tacit knowledge (i.e., based upon a person’s experiences, lessons learned, and intuitive judgments honed through deep expertise) is critical, particularly for service-based organizations, to leverage. For example, it’s important that consulting firms, with deep intellectual pockets, glean lessons learned from employees as they rotate from project to project.

To learn more about such roles in contemporary organizations, check out Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Lisa Burke Ph.D., SPHR

Dr. Burke is a UC Foundation Professor in the Department of Management in the College of Business. Also, Dr. Burke will present on “Absenteeism in Undergraduate Education” at the UTC Instructional Excellence Retreat on May 2, 2013.

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