Now is the time of year when people start making predictions about next year. What is your guess at what the year will bring, especially for HR and L&D?

No matter, you are probably wrong. Some of the most famous people in the world have proved that making bets on what will happen in the future is a mug’s game.

In the computer world some of the greats came a cropper. Thomas Watson the chairman of IBM supposedly predicted a world market for “maybe five computers” while Bill Gates is said to have claimed “that 640K ought to be enough for anybody” and initially dismissed the Internet as irrelevant to Microsoft, before then making it an absolute priority.

Misguided prophesies are certainly not confined to computers. A famous Western Union internal memo argued: "This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” 

The eventual founder of Federal Express wrote a paper explaining how a reliable overnight delivery service might work. Less than perceptively his management professor at the time commented: “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible." 

Who the h*ll wants to hear actors talk?" asked the head of Warner Brothers back in the late 1920’s. Two decades earlier “Everything that can be invented has been invented" argued the supposedly well-informed Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents. 

More recently, Margaret Thatcher in 1974 said “It will be years — not in my time — before a woman will become Prime Minister" and then set out to prove herself wrong. Being wrong is of course an all too human weakness.

One can still feel faintly sorry for Admiral Leahey who  as a self-proclaimed "expert in explosives” blithely predicted the Atom bomb “will never go off,” and for Lord Kelvin the President of the Royal Society who said “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” 

Probably no will ever know who said “To make God laugh show him your plans” but whoever it was should also have added “and try telling him what will happen next year.” 

Which brings us back to HR and L&D. If you know what will happen next year, kindly add your comments below this blog and I’ll be in touch around 12 months from now!