Trends from 2014

19 Dec
December 19, 2014

Almost a year ago I blogged about the key trends I’d be watching during 2014.  As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be useful to revisit the trends I’ve been watching and see some of the things that have been going on.

There were six key trends that I felt were worthy of attention.  These were:

  • Big Data
  • MOOCs
  • The return of the old
  • Business-focused learning
  • Successful change, and
  • Leadership

Let’s see what 2014 brought us . . .

Big Data

During 2013 and 2014, Big Data became one of the buzzwords to use.  We saw the emergence of an almost limitless association with Big Data and its predicted ability to cure all known ills – so far, so good.  But for some, the overwhelming weight of Big Data has proven to be just too much – it turns out (unsurprisingly) that not everyone wants Big Data or indeed has the time for it.  You can read more here.

For me the jury is still out.  There’s no doubt that Big Data can be useful for some but it’s not for everyone – and not everyone is data-savvy enough to make it work.


There’s nothing better than trying something for yourself and this year I signed up for – and passed – my first MOOC.  You can read about it here $$ CITATION $$

I’ve turned from a total skeptic to a real believer – MOOCs are maturing and getting better and there’s no doubt that a seismic shift in access to quality learning is happening.  For businesses, however, the challenge remains how to make the best use of this amazing free resource to benefit employees as part of the learning and development mix.

The return of the old

This year has seen the return of a number of favourites.  Videos are back with a splash and even the humble classroom seems to be experiencing a resurgence.  The proverbial learning and development fashion show keeps rolling on and I suspect will continue to do so for many years to come.

Rather than the ‘return of the old’, I’ve also been looking for the ‘emergence of the new’ – and I’m still looking.  With the exception of MOOCs, I haven’t really seen that much innovation.  If you think I’ve missed something then please leave a comment.

Business-focused learning

Business-focused training – that wonderful nirvana – totally focused on delivering benefits to the organisation.  I know that many of the awards shows during the year will have singled out some great examples but sadly I still hear too much about training for training’s sake  – and not as much as I would have hoped about making a real change to the business.  That said, things are changing.  Businesses are becoming harder on ensuring their learning and development resources deliver value.  Organisations are struggling with skills shortages – some badly so – and the ability to develop or deliver non-aligned programmes is ebbing away – thankfully!

Successful change

I’ve written quite a lot about change this year but despite efforts the magical 70% failure rate still holds true.  I’ve done a great deal of reading and researching around change programmes during 2014 and I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need speedboats rather than supertankers.  The old way of driving change needs to be replaced and there is mounting evidence that hacking organisations can and does have profound effects.


What I have seen and experienced this year is the vast amount of latent leadership within organisations – that is, leaders who want to do a great job if only their organisational processes would allow them to do so. Leaders who, when given some support and pointed in the right direction, can and do achieve amazing things.  I’ve also seen that theory counts for very little – what matters is behaviours and performance.  Leaders are not the same and we shouldn’t expect them to lead in the same way.  Our development programmes need to allow a greater degree of personal freedom – not organisational claustrophobia.


It’s been an interesting 2014 and we are still on a long journey to get better at what we do.  Evidence suggests that momentum is building so I’m very excited by the trends that will emerge during 2015.

Christmas break

I’ll be taking a break from writing over the Christmas period but will be back with some more insights in 2015.  Wishing all my readers and peaceful and safe festive break.

Tags: , , , ,
2 replies
  1. Andrew Jacobs says:

    Hi Jonathan, by return of the old, do you mean in terms of delivery? If so, are there many more ways we can deliver support for learning? If it’s about innovative thinking, there’s plenty out there. Part of the L&D challenge is to identify which thinking is valuable, has an evidence base, and is of practical use.

  2. Jonathan Kettleborough says:

    Hi Andrew,

    By ‘the return of the old’ I was referring to the fact that we have returned to ‘old’ approaches such as classroom and video – and I was wondering which ‘discarded’ approaches we may turn to next.

    As per my post though – and with the exception of the MOOC – I still haven’t seen that much in the way of real innovation of late.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *