Our 2018 Predictions for Learning and Development

For our five annual predictions for the learning and development sector, we follow the general view that technology – in the forms of machine leaning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality – will be a dominant force. But it won’t all be about AI in 2018.
Jan 03, 2018

1  The return of the middle manager

While much focus has been placed on leadership skills and the ‘voice from the top’, the under-appreciated and often-maligned middle manager will come back in vogue and be recognised for an increasingly rare yet innate ability: managing other people.

2  The death of authenticity

It is often said that if you can fake authenticity you’ve got it made. In 2018, many more managers will stop trying to ‘be themselves’. This will be a relief for staff who either did not like their line manager’s true nature or never believed the act in the first place. It will be replaced, hopefully, by a return to management basics – clear communication, constructive feedback and conflict resolution.

3  Individual learning for career development

Experience-based, flexible, individualised learning – and the means to transfer knowledge easily into professional life – will become stronger features of learning and development programmes. Concepts of culture, agility, disruption, digitalisation – while perhaps wearing thin through over-use – will continue to be part of the management lexicon and rationales for executive learning.

4  Gen Z hype

In 2018, so-called Generation Z, born around the millennium, will start to enter the workplace. Conferences, research papers and thought leadership articles will be devoted to this new phenomenon. Despite the hype, they will say very little different from what was once said about Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers when they were young.

5  Embracing machine learning

Despite a certain scepticism about the motives behind concepts like AI, greater acceptance of machine learning and a closer understanding of artificial intelligence will help leaders manage their companies better in 2018. The AI ‘holy grail’ is strategic foresight: stronger insights into customer needs, better market-facing propositions, improved operations, improved management skills – all helping a company to get ahead of its competitors.


Headspring is on a mission to develop leaders with purpose. We believe that every business has the potential to make the world a better place and we work with our clients to help them create a more purposeful world of work.