Chief Learning Officer (03/11) Vance, David
A corporate university implies that education is carried out like a business. This means that a vision and mission statement exist in tandem with specific, measurable goals for the function. Learning is coordinated proactively to the organization’s top-priority goals and a business case is created, taking into account the expected benefits and costs. A business plan for learning is developed including the business case, in-depth work plans, and a measurement and evaluation strategy. This plan is then carried out with diligence throughout the year. Most corporate universities have enterprise-wide responsibility, a high-level governing board, and robust support from their C-suite leaders. This is the vision proffered by Jeanne Meister in her 1994 tome, “Corporate Universities,” and this is how learning should be carried out, regardless of what the training function is labeled. Training executives and managers are all familiar with programs that simply rechristened themselves a corporate university and do not operate in the manner described above. This is faddish and they may quickly die out. There are also many such programs in operation that do operate as described above but do not wish to be called a corporate university, some because it simply sounds too bookish. Thus, if the term corporate university is too academic sounding for an organization, simply find a different moniker. Ultimately, the point is that regardless of what the function is called, that learning be run like a business.
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A corporate university that maintains measurable goals that align with the business mission and values is an imperative in the 21st century. Many corporate universities have been populated with courses like IPE.