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The Business of Learning

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The Business of Learning

How to Manage Corporate Training to Improve Your Bottom Line

Poudre River Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

In many ways, organizing a corporate university is like running a business. Here’s where to start.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Caterpillar University, rated 2004’s best corporate university, is one of the world’s leading business learning institutions. When CAT U first began operations in 2001, David Vance was its primary architect, guiding light and visionary – a business-oriented leader who served as its president to 2007. In this “MBA in a box” for chief learning officers (CLOs), he draws on his valuable experience in planning, setting up and running CAT U. Vance discusses the importance of establishing a strong business case for corporate learning and shows how to make such education a strategic contributor to any organization. He details how CLOs can maximize the return for every dollar spent on their corporate learning activities. getAbstract predicts that Vance’s big (500-plus pages) book is certain to be a lasting standard in the learning industry.


Adopt a Hardheaded Business Approach

Corporate learning should not be just a theoretical enterprise. Administer your company’s learning function as a business – using fundamental business practices, including strategic planning and rigorous execution – so it can make a significant impact on your organization. Associating education with the company’s strategy should always be the primary goal of the chief learning officer (CLO). When learning and development (L&D) programs contribute to the firm’s strategic success, they gain credibility and secure the CEO’s support for education and training.

One problem is that most learning professionals don’t have business backgrounds and, thus, don’t automatically try to make sure their learning activities achieve a results-oriented goal. Corporate learning professionals should develop their business acumen by learning “the language of finance and financial measurements.”

As you organize your corporate learning function, set up the same type of discrete, measurable goals that corporate units use when they establish their performance objectives. Develop a formal business plan for your learning function that details the...

About the Author

David Vance, founder and former president of Caterpillar University, consults with companies on corporate learning through his firm, Manage Learning LLC. In 2006, Chief Learning Officer magazine named Vance its CLO of the Year .

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