Imagine a thorough peer-review process of your organization’s learning function—and you are awarded a quality label. This label is similar to a certification and stamps your company’s learning as globally recognized as effective. That’s what earning the Corporate Learning Improvement Process (CLIP) label means.
The CLIP certification from the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) evolved from EFMD’s EQUIS accreditation system, which targets corporate universities and management learning centers. “Our mission is to serve the management, development profession, the management education profession, and within the corporate world to help the learning function,” said Gordon Shenton, project director for CLIP, EFMD. “After the success of the launch of EQUIS, the question then arose, ‘Could we provide a similar service for corporate members?’ and we brought together a working party of large companies that include Lufthansa, Volkswagen and British Telecom, and gradually we expanded this group. We asked the chief learning officers to define what they see as key criteria for assessing quality and developing corporate universities. Our intent was to create, for the corporate learning function, an improvement system based on quality assessment but beyond that to really provide a development tool for the companies.”
Companies interested in obtaining the CLIP credential begin with a rigorous screening application process, then take on self-assessment and undergo an extensive peer review. “As in all quality improvement systems or most of them, we provide a peer-review system,” Shenton said. “These four people are in the profession. The members of the team are chief learning officers from other companies. This team comes together having read the self-assessment report and all of the supportive documents and spends two-and-a-half days asking hard questions and challenging the assertions that the company is making about its processes and outcomes and so on, with a view to constructively challenging them and lead to outcomes which are fed back into oral feedback immediately.”
CLIP feedback means a consensual evaluation by peer reviewers to elaborate on the good areas they find and make suggestions or recommendations for those areas that may need development. “It’s not really a consulting operation, but it clearly does include that dimension of making constructive suggestions and is helpful in the development of the corporate learning function,” Shenton said. “In almost all cases there are issues that are unresolved, problems that haven’t been dealt with, certainly in the European environment. Corporate universities in this broad sense are quite often recent or are constantly going through organizational change, hence the particular usefulness of this tool because it really does provide quite relevant outside information. It also provides an award. There’s a quality label, and this is particularly intended for internal use. The business schools will take an accreditation as a marketing tool to bring in students and to position themselves in the market. In the case of the corporates, we’ve found that the main motivation for seeking a quality award is internal communication—to be able to demonstrate to the board, the CEO, senior people in HR to line managers that what they’re doing is up to international standards, has been benchmarked against best practice and has been subjected to a searching review process. The final benefit that we deliver is that the institutions, the companies that have been through, then become part of am expanding steering committee that also serves as a learning community. We meet twice or three times a year with an agenda which involves managing the process but also talking about the issues that are brought up through the review processes.”
The team that undertakes the peer review uses the learning candidate’s self-assessment report, which includes a complete portfolio of programs and activities, whether they do coaching, mentoring, action learning, e-learning, etc. The candidate explains what they do, their quality assurance processes, and then the team meets with people in the learning organization and talks to program designers, trainers, outside suppliers, line managers and clients in order to assess the effectiveness of the training offered. It takes between six and nine months to earn the CLIP award, and the certification has a shelf life of five years, after which companies must reapply and go through the self-assessment and peer-review processes again.
“We’re trying to address the issues of improving strategic learning and creating a mechanism for people in the profession to work together,” Shenton said. “It’s not just a quality label. It’s everything that lies behind it. It’s the idea that the company will get three days of attention from other experts in the field who are doing this on a voluntary basis as a learning process for them, a contribution to the profession and help to progress in an area that is really very difficult.”
Another way of earning recognition from your CLO peers, the CLO Learning In Practice Awards, recognize leadership in workforce development. Gold, silver and bronze awards are awarded in six categories, including: Achieving Impact, Creative Alliances, Leading Business Change, Learning Innovation, Strategic Alignment and Utilization of Marketing Resources. In addition, a single CLO of the Year is awarded. The deadline for award entries has been extended until July 5, 2005. Winners will be announced at the Fall 2005 Symposium in Huntington Beach, Calif., where 2004 CLO of the Year Award Winner Frank Anderson of Defense Acquisition University will deliver a keynote address.
For more information visit: www.clomedia.com/learningawards.
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