Note: This is a re-post of a piece I published a little over a year ago. I have been encouraged since then by seeing a number of associations appoint chief learning officers, but I still think there is a lot of progress that needs to be made in making leadership of learning into a “C-level” position.
A while back I asked the question “Who’s Your Chief Learning Officer?” and offered my own brief description of that position as:
- Someone who is empowered to make strategic decisions and see that they get implemented? (Chief)
- Someone who thinks beyond educational events and training to consider the full richness and complexity of knowledge management and capability building in your field or industry? (Learning)
- Someone who is held officially accountable for your organization’s responsibility to advance member learning? (Officer)
I was reminded of this post recently when talking with a senior executive at one of my association clients. In noting how difficult it was to find someone to oversee all of the organization’s education initiatives this person noted that the “chief learning officer” role defined in the corporate world only partially fits what is needed in the association world. Even with a shifting focus towards “return on investment” over the past decade, corporate training departments are still a cost center. But association education programs are, in most cases, expected to be revenue centers.