Q. What is the LearningElite program?
A. Chief Learning Officer magazine’s LearningElite program honors the best organizations for learning and development. This robust, peer-developed benchmarking program recognizes those organizations that employ exemplary workforce development strategies to deliver significant business results that benefit their organization, industry and the learning and development field. Developed under the guidance of a group of chief learning officers and senior learning and development practitioners, the LearningElite program is based upon five dimensions: learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact (internal) and business performance results (external). The dimensions serve as an integrated framework for managing a learning organization. The program utilizes best practices in evaluation to establish those elite organizations based upon impact, size and industry served.
The aim of the LearningElite is to:
- Identify and recognize industry leaders.
- Promote recognition of the critical role that learning and development plays in organizational success.
- Support organizations in achieving best-in-class levels of performance.
- Identify and share best practices, principles and strategies for learning and development.
- Provide powerful benchmarking data for world-class learning and development.
Q. How is the LearningElite different from other award programs?
A. The LearningElite program is a peer-based program designed and judged by experts/practitioners. It is an industry recognition program that highlights high-performing organizations that employ learning and development as a strategic tool. It also serves as a benchmark for continuous performance improvement. Additionally, the LearningElite is the only program, as compared to ASTD BEST, Training Top 125, Brandon Hall, Bersin & Associates and CUBIC, that recognizes companies by organizational size. The LearningElite focuses on the learning organization as a whole, not on a single L&D initiative. On the administrative side, the program offers a planning worksheet and an online application to make it easier. In addition, all applicants will receive a custom scorecard comparing their scores on the LearningElite dimensions as compared to the benchmark.
Q. What are the benefits of applying for the LearningElite?
LearningElite applicants receive:
- A custom scorecard with year-over-year comparison and all judges’ comments on their application.
- A discount on the LearningElite Annual Report.
LearningElite finalists will receive:
- A custom scorecard with year-over-year comparison and all judges’ comments on their application.
- A discount on the LearningElite Annual Report.
- A discount to the 2014 Spring CLO Symposium.
- An invitation to the LearningElite gala prior to CLO Spring Symposium.
- An invitation to a LearningElite finalist pre-conference workshop prior to the 2013 Spring CLO Symposium.
- An organizational mention in Chief Learning Officer magazine LearningElite special edition (usually published in June).
LearningElite Application Benefits
Past LearningElite organizations and applicants have reported that the application process in itself is extremely valuable. The application process allows for improved alignment of plans and processes, communication and workforce morale. Organizations have employed their application data for performance reviews, as a basis for building an L&D strategy and internal benchmarking, and other award programs.
The LearningElite application/self-assessment allows a learning organization to focus on issues that are relevant to the broader enterprise, such as:
- Customers or competitors are driving a need to change.
- Your industry or environment is changing.
- You want to enhance organizational learning through reflective insight.
- Your organization’s values are aligned with the LearningElite model.
- You see a clear connection between your organization’s key issues and the Learning Elite’s systematic approach to improving organizational performance.
LearningElite Scorecard Benefits
Every applicant receives a custom scorecard that can be used to track performance year-over-year and benchmark against other organizations across five dimensions: learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact (internal) and business performance results (external). Organizations often use their scorecard in their strategic planning processes to focus on their customers and improve results, as well as to help energize and guide their organizational improvement efforts. The scorecard also includes all judges’ comments on the application, including comments on elite practices, areas for improvement and overall comments. Organizations committed to performance improvement have indicated that objective feedback, especially from external sources, is both valuable and essential to their success.
No matter the size or nature of your organization, the LearningElite benchmarking program is a guide in your journey toward performance excellence. The program can help your learning function align resources; improve communication, productivity and effectiveness; and achieve strategic goals.
Overall, the LearningElite program will allow a learning function to:
- Identify successes and opportunities for improvement.
- Jump-start a change initiative or energize current initiatives.
- Energize the workforce.
- Focus the organization on common goals.
- Assess your organization’s performance against others.
- Align your resources with your strategic objectives.
- Deliver world-class results.
Q. What is the difference between the Chief Learning Officer Learning In Practice awards and the LearningElite program?
A. The Chief Learning Officer Learning In Practice awards honor industry leaders who have demonstrated excellence in the design and delivery of workforce learning and development programs. The awards recognize specific initiatives and programs in multiple categories for practitioners and learning solution providers, as well as the Chief Learning Officer of the Year award. The LearningElite program recognizes learning organizations as a whole and not particular initiatives or specific programs. The LearningElite serves as a benchmarking program and includes a recognition component.
Q. Who is eligible to apply?
A. The LearningElite is open to all for-profit, nonprofit, government or academic organizations. It recognizes enterprise-wide learning and development achievements. Academic institutions are also eligible to apply but responses must reference learning and development provided to employees, staff and faculty and not to the student population. Applications are accepted from learning solution providers, suppliers or vendors that have exceptional internal learning and development organizations.
Q. If my organization previously applied or was awarded LearningElite, can I apply again?
A. Yes, organizations are permitted to apply year over year. The scorecard for those that apply multiple years will include trending data.
Q. Can any size organization apply for the LearningElite?
Q. What are the differences between the 2013 LearningElite program and the 2014 program?
A. In the spirit of continuous improvement, there are some differences between the 2013 and 2014 program; however, both programs are based on the same fundamental model measuring five dimensions: learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact (internal) and business performance results (external). The items in Part II — LearningElite Dimensions have been streamlined and the measurement items have been consolidated based on applicant feedback and psychometric analyses of item functionality. In addition, a new question has been added to the Leadership Commitment dimension, asking applicants what practices the learning function uses to engage senior and mid-level leaders in the culture of learning at the organization.
The Winner’s Circle: Beginning this year, organizations that are ranked No. 1 in the LearningElite will be placed in the Winner’s Circle for three years, where they will not be part of the rankings, but will still participate in benchmarking. These organizations will still receive their scorecard and judges’ comments and will be informed where they would have ranked had they not been in the winner’s circle. This practice will be retroactively applied; the organizations that have ranked No. 1 for the previous three years of the LearningElite will be placed into the Winner’s Circle this year, which will continue until three years past the date of their No. 1 ranking.
Banding: The LearningElite organizations have consistently told us that they’d prefer to have more context on their performance in the LearningElite relative to their peers. To this end, the ranked list of LearningElite organizations will be overlaid with a banding system that will further clarify the maturity of elite practices among the LearningElite organizations. We will continue to rank all organizations, but will overlay the rankings with bands, (Gold, Silver and Bronze) that have thresholds determined by the rubric we use and the data we have from the past three years. In this way we can provide more benchmarking value for participating organizations, while preserving the competitive spirit of the program.
These bands will appear on the LearningElite scorecard with an explanation of the maturity of LearningElite practices in each band. In addition, the banding will be placed on the LearningElite trophies along with the rank number.
Word limits: To minimize fatigue for our judges, we’re instituting word limits on the LearningElite application for the first time. The word limit for the essay portion of the application, not counting the application questions, will be 12,000 words. We determined the word limit by averaging the word count on our top 15 ranked applications from last year and adding a buffer for the additional question on leadership commitment that we’ve added to the application this year. We do NOT mean to imply that applications should be 12,000 words, merely that this is the upper limit that is allowable.
Change in application submission: The essay portion of the LearningElite application will be changed to a PDF with embedded graphics and no attachments. Judges have complained that when applicants cite supporting documentation — a graphic that describes the learning strategy, or a chart that shows program results — they have to stop reading, go find the supporting document and then go back to their evaluation. Applicants have also complained about not being able to tell their story clearly without recourse to graphic representations. This year, LearningElite applicants will produce the essay portion of their application by using the application worksheet, embedding any supporting graphics, saving it as a PDF file and uploading it to the online application tool.
Capstone evaluation: As in 2013, those selected as the top five will be ranked based on both their application score and a capstone evaluation score. Based on the self-report application data, those selected as the top five LearningElite organizations will be required to participate in a capstone evaluation including a presentation and Q&A with Chief Learning Officer magazine’s HCM Advisory Group leaders and the editorial director of Chief Learning Officer. The final top five rankings will be established after all capstone evaluations are complete.
Q. What is a capstone evaluation and why is it important to selecting the LearningElite?
A. The LearningElite is a self-report organizational assessment with demonstrable requirements/collateral. Those who are selected as the LearningElite will exceed the pre-established cut score in all five dimensions measured. Of those selected to the LearningElite, the five organizations with the highest application score are asked to participate in a capstone evaluation with Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Human Capital Media (HCM) Advisory Group leaders and magazine editors. The purpose of the capstone evaluation is for the LearningElite top five role model organizations to demonstrate leadership commitment to L&D and to allow the judging team to examine issues that are essential components of scoring and role model determination. The capstone evaluation team will seek to gain a deeper understanding of the applicant’s performance across the five dimensions measured. The capstone evaluation involves a two-hour presentation to the evaluation team by applicant’s most senior learning leader and others in L&D.
a. A 50-minute WebEx presentation by the applicant’s team and CLO: They present a deeper dive into three critical areas of the LearningElite application, and the practices that matter in achieving excellence in their execution. The three areas are as follows:
- Measurement strategy: Metrics that matter, from learning objectives to business impact. How does your organization determine which metrics are the most important for your learning organization? What are the leading indicators of success for the learning function?
- Leadership commitment to a culture of learning: How do your senior leadership and learning practices support a culture of learning at your organization?
- Engagement in learning: How does your organization make the case for learning to employees and line managers?
b. A 50-minute Q&A session with the evaluation team to further clarify anything from the presentation or application.
The capstone evaluation team will employ a standard scoring protocol across all five evaluations. The scoring protocol will be distributed to the top five LearningElite organizations upon notification. The capstone evaluation will be scheduled between March 10 and March 14, 2013.
Q. Is the information I share with the capstone evaluation team confidential?
A. Capstone evaluation participants are not required to share proprietary information. If an organization would like to share something proprietary and strictly “off-the-record,” it must indicate so during the evaluation process.
Just like the LearningElite application, information shared during the capstone evaluation adheres to the same rights statement:
By submitting an application for Chief Learning Officer’s LearningElite, you agree Chief Learning Officer may use any and all data or information provided by your organization in connection with the LearningElite program, (2) Chief Learning Officer may use and publish any compilations of such data or information with data or information submitted by other organizations in connection with the LearningElite program, (3) Chief Learning Officer may use the name of your organization solely for the purpose of promoting the LearningElite program.
Q. What if I am identified as one of the top five LearningElite organizations, but do not/cannot participate in the capstone evaluation?
A. In this case, your ranking will be based on your application score only, not application score plus capstone evaluation score, and the highest you can rank is No. 6.
Q. Can learning solution providers, suppliers or vendors apply for this award?
A. Learning solution providers, suppliers or vendors that have exceptional internal learning and development organizations should apply. They should also encourage and help their customers to apply for the LearningElite program, but due to the detailed proprietary information required in the application, they may not be able to complete the application in full for their customers.
Q. How do I apply for the LearningElite?
A. There is an online application process. You must complete the application online by Nov. 1, 2013, at midnight Pacific time. To begin the application, please click here. Because the application requires extensive organization-wide data, we have created planning worksheets you can use as tools for planning and data collection. These planning worksheets can be downloaded from the awards site once you’ve registered.
Q. How long will it take me to complete the LearningElite application?
A. It depends. You are required to capture organization-wide data and will be dependent on multiple departments and business units. It is highly recommended that you start immediately with the planning worksheets (which can be downloaded from the LearningElite Award website once you’ve registered), review all required information and then build a data collection strategy. Once you have the planning worksheet completed, allow yourself plenty of time to enter the information online prior to midnight Pacific time on Nov. 1, 2013.
Q: How much does it cost to apply?
A: There is a $195 application processing and handling fee.
Q: How do I pay the application fee?
A. Once you complete the online application and click submit, you will be required to pay the application fee with a credit card. Your application is not finalized until you pay the fee.
Q. When is the application close date?
A. The application must be completed online by midnight Pacific time on Nov. 1, 2013.
Q. How will the data from my LearningElite application be used?
A. Your individual organizational data will be used to establish your standing in the LearningElite. The Chief Learning Officer research and advisory services department will use application data to generate the personalized scorecard delivered to you after the final rankings are announced. Of those selected as LearningElite, we will share some basic demographic data, such as industry and number of employees, from Part I of the application and strategic learning initiatives highlighted in Part II in the final listing published in Chief Learning Officer magazine. Additionally, application data will be shared with the judges to establish the final rankings.
Application data will be summarized and included in the LearningElite Annual Report across the five dimensions measured.
Q. What is the LearningElite scorecard?
A. Each applicant will receive a scorecard after final rankings are announced on Monday, March 31, 2014, indicating how they placed compared to the other applicants overall and on each of the five LearningElite dimensions: learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact (internal) and business results (external). The scorecards also include judges’ comments on the application, including noting elite practices, areas for improvement and overall comments. The scorecards will be mailed to the contact person who completed the online application. The scorecard for those that apply multiple years will include trending data.
Q. Is the resulting feedback you receive really worth the investment?
A. Yes, if the knowledge gained is used to improve. Organizations that are committed to performance improvement place a high value on objective feedback from a knowledgeable source. Many organizations that apply for the LearningElite already conduct self-assessments. Regardless of the learning function’s maturity, all LearningElite applicants will experience an increase in commitment because of application process and feedback via a scorecard.
Q. What time frame does the LearningElite cover?
A. The LearningElite requires information about the L&D function during the previous and current fiscal year. Application items specify a time frame if required.
Q. What is the LearningElite advisory board?
A. The LearningElite advisory board is a group of industry leaders who help guide the development and execution of the LearningElite program. They are a heterogeneous group of senior-level executives with deep expertise in managing learning organizations and corporate universities and include people from a range of industries, government and academia. The members of the LearningElite advisory board are:
- Tom Clancy, Vice President, Global Education and Productivity, EMC Corp.
- Cedric Coco, Senior Vice President, Learning and Organizational Effectiveness, Lowe’s Cos. Inc.
- Tamar Elkeles, Vice President, Learning and Development, Qualcomm
- Thomas J. Evans, Associate and Chief Learning Officer, PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Fred Lang, Director, Office of Training and Knowledge Management
- David Lamb, Vice President, Learning and Media Services, Rollins Inc.
- Justin Lombardo, Chief Learning Officer, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas
- Al Malinchak, Chief Learning Officer and Vice President, ManTech International Corp.
- Ann Logan, Dean, Vanguard University, Vanguard
- Matt Peters, Chief, Office of Learning & Career Development, Defense Intelligence Agency
- Rebecca Ray, CLO in Residence, Corporate University Exchange
- Allison Rossett, Professor, Educational Technology, San Diego State University
- Anne Schwartz, Vice President, Global Learning and Development, UPS
- Christy Sinnott, Vice President, Learning and Development, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
- Diana Thomas, Vice President, U.S. Training, McDonald’s Corp.
- Annette Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, Farmers Insurance
- Kevin Wilde, Chief Learning Officer, General Mills
Q. What is the process for selecting the LearningElite organizations?
A. All applications will be assigned a random number maintained by the Chief Learning Officer research and advisory services department and distributed to judges. The judges will not judge applications from their own organization or their own industry. The judging process will be complete by late January.
Q. Once I submit my application, when can I expect to hear if my organization is selected as a LearningElite?
A. You will receive notification by Feb. 17, 2014, regarding the status on your LearningElite application. Applications close Nov. 1, 2013. All applications are judged December to January. Then final rankings are established.
Q. Why are the LearningElite applicants asked to document their successful strategies?
A. Documenting successful strategies will enable the judges to evaluate the quality of applications and highlight unique organizational strengths. From the aggregate data, the Chief Learning Officer research and advisory department will generate a pool of successful strategies as best practices to share with the L&D field.
Q. How many organizations will be selected this year as part of the LearningElite?
A. There is no set number of LearningElite organizations. Organizations that demonstrate that they meet and exceed the benchmarks will be deemed LearningElite. In 2013, there were 52 organizations deemed LearningElite. In 2012, there were 45 organizations above the LearningElite benchmarks.
Q. When will Chief Learning Officer announce the winners?
A. The contact person listed on organizations achieving LearningElite status will be notified of finalist status by Feb. 17, 2014. Final rankings will be announced and LearningElite winners will be honored at a gala preceding the Spring 2014 CLO Symposium on Sunday, March 30.
Q. What do the winning LearningElite organizations receive?
A. The LearningElite organizations will be honored at a gala on Sunday, March 30, 2014, preceding the Spring 2014 CLO Symposium in Laguna Niguel, Calif. The final LearningElite rankings will be revealed during the gala and the top LearningElite organizations will receive a special recognition. The names of those selected as the LearningElite will be used in press releases and will be featured int he June issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine. The top 10 organizations will be profiled in feature articles in Chief Learning Officer in the June issue.
Q. When is the LearningElite gala?
A. The gala celebrating the LearningElite organizations is Sunday, March 30, 2014, at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif. To learn more about the Spring 2014 CLO Symposium, click here.
Q. What is the LearningElite judging process?
A. Chief Learning Officer employs an online application, and all applications are electronically assigned to judges. Judges are not assigned applications from their respective organization or industry. The judges are provided with a comprehensive scoring rubric to use during judging. All the judged applications will be compared to the benchmarks, and the final LearningElite organizations will be established.
Q. Who are the LearningElite judges?
A. The LearningElite judges are senior practitioners, learning solution providers, suppliers as well as vendor executives and learning and development experts.
Q. How much time do judges need to commit?
A. The judging process will vary based on the length of the application being judged and the number of applications assigned. Judging takes place from December 2013 to January 2014.
Q. What are inter-rater and intra-rater reliability and how are they assessed?
A. Inter-rater reliability ensures agreement of ratings across judges, and intra-rater reliability is the degree of agreement among multiple repetitions performed by a single judge. First, a standardized scoring rubric will be utilized by all judges to ensure consistent ratings between and within judging sessions. The scoring rubric will contribute to higher overall reliability by establishing a description of the scoring criteria in advance. Second, a random selection of the applications will be assigned to random judges and their ratings will be assessed for inter-rater reliability. We will generate correlations and inter-class correlations to assess the level of agreement among raters and within independent judging sessions. If inter-rater reliability appears to be problematic, the scoring rubric will be recalibrated prior to the official judging. If a judge provides inconsistent or unreliable ratings, their applications will be reassigned.
Q. Do the LearningElite judges receive anything for their participation?
A. Yes. The judges will be listed on the LearningElite website and in the awards program. Many judges have reported that the judging process and insight into exceptional L&D organizations provides a personal benchmark experience in itself.
Q. How do I apply to be a LearningElite Judge?
A. LearningElite judgeship is open to senior practitioners and learning solution providers’ executives from any size organization and any industry. You do not have to submit an application to the LearningElite program to be considered for judgeship. Of those who apply, the magazine’s editors and research and advisory services team will select a heterogeneous group from different size organizations, industries, government and academia. Judgeship applications will open Oct. 3, 2013.
Q. What organizations have received the LearningElite designation?
A. You can view the 2013 LearningElite organizations and special awards by clicking here.
Q. How can I stay in touch with the LearningElite?
A. You can follow us on:
• LinkedIn – Chief Learning Officer magazine
• Facebook – LearningElite Page
Q. What are the important LearningElite dates?
- Aug. 15, 2013 — LearningElite applications open.
- Oct. 3, 2013 — LearningElite judgeship applications open.
- Nov. 1, 2013 (midnight Pacific time) — LearningElite and judgeship applications close.
- Nov. 19-23, 2013 — Judges are selected and notified.
- December 2013 to January 2014 — Applications are judged.
- Feb. 17, 2014 — Applicants are notified of application status.
- Week of Feb. 17, 2014 — Capstone evaluation for the top five LearningElite are scheduled.
- Week of March 10, 2014 — Conduct the capstone evaluation of the top five LearningElite organizations.
- Week of March 24, 2014 — Final rankings are established.
- Sunday, March 30, 2014 — LearningElite winners are honored at a gala preceding the Spring 2014 CLO Symposium at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
- Monday, March 31, 2014 — LearningElite scorecards and press kits are sent to LearningElite winners.
- April 2014 — 2014 LearningElite Best Practices and Benchmarking Report is published.
- April 2014 — Chief Learning Officer magazine editors interview the top 10 LearningElite organizations for the special Chief Learning Officer magazine LearningElite special edition.
- June 2014 — Chief Learning Officer magazine publishes the special LearningElite edition.
- August 2014 — 2015 LearningElite applications open.
Q. If I have additional questions about the LearningElite program, how do I contact Chief Learning Officer?
A. Send your questions to Sarah Kimmel, director of research, at firstname.lastname@example.org