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Chief learning officers (or CLOs) have been the invisible engines behind corporate structures for around three decades. The revolutionary idea belongs to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch who first coined the term – and proved its business potential. Welch was a man who definitely knew what he was doing: as a result of his twenty-year tenure, GE value rose nothing less than 4,000%.
Since then, CLOs have taken their respected place in the corporate world. But times are changing and so are business trends: in 2019, chief learning officers are increasingly hunted after by family-run and mid-sized businesses.
The idea of a chief learning officer implies no limit on business size. Think of a CLO as the chief mentor of your organization. In this respect, SMB owners can profit from business learning no less than corporations – and in fact more speedily and easily.
«Though many people still think of chief learning officers in terms of large companies, what the term really implies is a specific person in your business who’s in charge of defining business goals and forging the shortest path to meeting them.»
Hiring such business “referees” (as effectively labeled by The New York Times) is now becoming essential to family-run businesses. As many of us know, keeping a cool head and coming down to a single business development scenario is harder than ever when it means negotiating with family. That’s why an increasing number of family businesses turn to an independent advisor for their financial and growth needs.
The expense of hiring an extra person for a specific job often scares SMB owners away from investing in a “second opinion”. Moreover, many owners get so used to handling everything by themselves that they find it difficult to trust “an outsider”.
Such reasoning may be justified when things are going well. But if your revenue is starting to fluctuate for no apparent reason and customers are leaving you for a competitor, it’s time to reconsider your strategy. At this point, gathering advice from family and friends (even those in your field) will just tie the knot further. What you need is professional and independent mentorship.
«For those business owners who prefer to “prepare for winter while summer’s still around”, a personal chief learning officer will show how to be one step ahead of competitors and align your goals with changing business trends.»
Moreover, when a business involves family or partners, a CLO will teach you how to listen to all sides and work out real solutions. This will ensure that all of your hard “here and now” work will solidify into beautiful long-term results.
Most chief learning officers get paid by the hour or on a project-based rate. While today many freelance websites offer business coaches for any budget and business need, it’s necessary to do some research before investing.
Mid-sized and family-run businesses may find it more productive to periodically consult a trustworthy mentor who will outline their development approach in a concise manner rather than hire inexperienced coaches full-time. In the latter case, you will be wasting money rather than saving it.
Your best choice is to research the field and find a trustworthy professional who meets both your business and financial requirements.
When all’s said and done, a chief learning officer is the person who knows how to stretch the horizon for your business. As a family-run or mid-sized business, you have great priority before large corporations: it’s much easier to steer your “ship” towards that horizon than it is for a huge enterprise. All you need is the right impetus and the right captain to guide you towards a confident and peaceful future.