Editor’s Letter

Moving Forward, Looking Behind


e recently moved into a brand new office. It’s still that magical time of uncluttered desktops and new carpet smell before the coffee stains blossom and papers and files inevitably pile up.

While our new digs are just a short two-block hop from our old home in downtown Chicago, in some ways it is a journey of years. There’s nothing quite like a move to bring the passage of time into focus.

Shortly after I started as editorial director at Chief Learning Officer in 2007, we moved into that recently vacated office. In the ensuing time we grew from primarily a magazine publisher into a full-fledged media company with events, conferences and original research serving the largest audience in the human capital management industry.

Just as our company evolved in those 10-plus years so has enterprise learning and development. A relatively simple classroom delivery model morphed into blended learning deploying a rich mix of modalities. It’s now increasingly a model that delivers learning and support at the moment of need in the flow of work using an array of sophisticated tools and technologies.

The role of learning leader evolved along with it. Chief learning officers, who in some cases were a glorified trainer in chief, continued to develop into full-fledged business executives. We documented your stories as learning executives took on ever-growing roles and responsibilities at the forefront of business.

And we watched as business changed around you and the future became a little less defined and quite a bit more complex. Some call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution — a time when machines and humans work together in synchrony and management is not merely about people and capital. It requires organizations to marshal all their resources in a coordinated fashion — human and machine, the individual and the collective.

We’re alongside you for the ride as the role of chief learning officer continues to evolve to address the future of business.

Chief learning officers play a primary role in helping organizations get there. To start, CLOs need to make sure humans have the skills required to thrive in an environment where they are increasingly augmented by machines and robots. But there are also more complex, long-term and uncertain ways it’s all changing.

That’s why the future CLO must be agile, responsive and open to new ways of working. Your role is more than skill development and training. Learning leaders have a hand in familiar areas like performance management, talent assessment and workplace culture as well as unfamiliar and evolving ones like nanotechnology, the “internet of things,” data management and security, artificial intelligence and user experience.

What was once instructor in chief is now coordinator of strategy and harnesser of innovation. Content expertise and mastery of the instructional domain are augmented by business savvy, sophisticated consulting and diagnosis skills and the ability to advocate and influence others across the company, not just in the classroom.

Chief Learning Officer is by your side and helping point the way as you chart that future. With that in mind, we’re excited to present the findings from a one-of-a-kind research study about the future of the CLO role in an exclusive keynote address at the Fall Chief Learning Officer Symposium.

Sarah Kimmel, our head of research, will lay out the role as it is today and the path of its continued evolution. It promises to be filled with exceptional insights.

That presentation is just one part of a retooled agenda for our premier fall event taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston. Over the course of three days, we’ll dive deep into the CLO role and talk about the ideas and practices that are the keys to future success. Not only must you develop the next generation of enterprise leaders but you also have to develop yourself for a role that is constantly changing.

We’ll cap it all off with the presentation of our 2018 Learning In Practice awards, a celebration of the dozens of award-winning executives and companies. Their stories — and yours — are all part of the shared path we travel as we look back at where we’ve been and move forward to where we need to be.

Mike Prokopeak
Editor in Chief