At some point in the evolution of your organization, you may be asking if you need to add a Chief Learning Officer (or Chief Lean Officer) – CLO to your management staff.  If your organization has already made a commitment to Lean Learning, the CLO who has been trained in Lean strategies and techniques can place every member of your organization, from the top down, on a Lean fast track.

Although the CEO may have a clear vision of your organization’s objectives in terms of where it is now, it will be the responsibility of the CLO to articulate to staff and employees the best way to arrive at the next desired destination.  Lean’s Transformation Roadmap can serve as an excellent workplace “GPS” and will probably be one of the CLO’s basic tools.

The CLO you hire can be an expert in corporate or personal training.  Their education would most likely include several advanced degrees in education, psychology, business and other areas of competency that are specifically related to your organization.  If they are Lean certified, they will have a broad understanding of learning implementation, regardless of the enterprise.  The organization’s Lean goals and objectives will serve as a template for identifying gaps or areas that need attention, and for improving performance.

Serving as a mentor and coach as well as a teacher, the CLO will help employees define their roles in the organization.  Does this role resonate with their skills and sense of purpose?  How do they fit into the larger picture?  This expressly defined alignment creates an environment of teamwork and support for the organization’s goals and objectives.

In Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Ch  arging Your Company & Your Life, author Bill Artzberger skillfully shows how each of the entrepreneurs who work with Lean coaches realize the value of installing Lean Learning in their organizations, with a professional learning officer on staff.  Filling multiple roles, the Chief Learning Officer may initiate the process of management and staff becoming psychologically invested in the learning process.  The CLO will measure engagement using diverse learning tasks that allow them to rate their effectiveness.

CLO’s can also introduce new skills or abilities to your organization.  As a liaison between management or a specific department, the CLO offers knowledge and psychological support.  In the role of company trainer, they will also provide seminars and learning materials as well as tools for evaluating their success and competency.

Perhaps the most important function of the CLO is that of serving as a clearing house or communications hub for management, staff and employees.  As the only member of the management team who works directly with key people from each division, ultimately the Chief Learning Officer’s level of performance may determine your organization’s success or failure.


[1] Artzberger, Bll. Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Charging Your Company and Your Life. Mesa AZ: Dandelion Books, 2016, pg. 103.