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Best read features of 2008


2008It's that time of year when we reflect on the highs and lows on in 2008. Here's the list of what grabbed your attention most on site in the last 12 months. Most of the features in our top reads have been written by our own staff - experienced feature writers Louise Druce, Verity Gough and Annie Hayes and freelancer Dawn Smith. So we've extended the list to the top 12 this year, to include more members. Our great thanks and congratulations to Donald H Taylor, Martin Shovel, Jan Hills, Mike Morrison and Paul Kearns who are all in the list. They are just a handful of our members who make an outstanding contribution to what is first and foremost a community site.

Donald Taylor
Modern myths of learning: You only remember 10% of what you read by Donald H Taylor

The start of Donald Taylor's closer examination of some well used 'learning myths' had you gripped - more than 13,700 people have read his article at the time of writing. Whether you agree with his well researched expose or not, it certainly makes you stop and think about the assumptions that we can all make. Donald, the chairman of the Learning Technologies conference and a regular contributor to our website, wrote a follow up piece You only use 10% of your brain and has more planned for the future - so keep an eye on in 2009!

Martin Shovel
Mehrabian Nights: An informative tale about (mis) communication by Martin Shovel

The bid to reveal some complacent thinking was actually started by Martin Shovel earlier in the year. Most readers will have heard that 'most of what we communicate isn't through speech', even if they don't know the exact statistic or it's origin. Martin Shovel exploded this urban myth in style with more than 11,500 of you reading his feature. After a short break from writing, we hope that Martin will be back on site in the New Year.

Photo of Jan Hills
Training Needs Analysis: What's the best Approach? By Jan Hills

Jan Hills of HR With Guts suggested taking a more positive approach to training needs analysis, by focusing on the outcome rather than the problem in this feature. Jan, a well known contributor to our sister site, has a way of taking a fresh approach and we particularly liked her other feature Intuition as a business tool which we're also re-publishing today as one of our Xmas crackers - features that we believe deserve a second look.

Photo of Louise Druce
Is the Train to gain already derailed? By Sift features editor Louise Druce

Two years ago, Lord Leitch set out some lofty goals to plug the yawning skills gap in the UK by 2020. Louise Druce, our departing features editor (who is going on to become the editor of another website in the Sift Media portfolio) looked at the progress that had been made towards them when she wrote this feature in January 2008. It may be a case of déjà-vu next month, in January 2009, when the 'After Leitch' report is expected - the results of the select committee enquiry which has examined progress on Lord Leitch's recommendations to date.

Mike Morrison
Management & leadership skills: What's the difference? By Mike Morrison

Management v leadership is one of those 'evergreen' topics that comes up time and again on, but Mike Morrison nailed it first this year! Of course the eagle eyed amongst you will notice that this feature was first published in December 2007 - but in a bid to be fair to everyone, we dated our search for the best read features of the year back to 1 December 2007.

Louise Druce
The mind reader: A profile of Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a household name, credited with being the father of lateral thinking, so we were thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed by Louise Druce. It's a great feature that will stand the test of time and I'm sure that many more people will read it in the months and years to come. Buoyed by it's success it started a series of high profile interviews with the 'greats' within the industry, such as Meredith Belbin, Chuck Dymer, Roger Schank, Jay Cross, Charles Jennings, Donald Kirkpatrick, John Adair (see next entry) and the latest interview with Tony Buzan.

Is there someone that you'd like us to interview? Do you have a pressing question for an expert in their field like this? Please get in touch and we'll see what we can do! [email protected]

Louise Druce
John Adair: The rise of the new leader

Leadership development guru John Adair needs little introduction. We were delighted when he agreed to a series of three interviews with and this was the first. You can read the third and second here:
John Adair: Why does leadership training fail
John Adair: In pursuit of a global leadership strategy
The third interview was the final feature written for us by Louise Druce, so was a great swansong for her. We wish her great success in her new role.

Annie Hayes
Creativity: Can you teach it? By TrainingZone contributing editor Annie Hayes

Can some clever training coax creativity and innovation out of even the most unlikely candidates? Our contributing editor Annie Hayes, who will be well known to many of you, went in search of the answer. We're delighted that Annie has a feature in the top 10 as she makes a great contribution to the site. Christiana Tollast will be helping out next year when Annie is on maternity leave and I'm sure that all members will make her feel welcome. We look forward to seeing more great features from Annie in the future.

Dawn Smith
The 'who, what and where' of training qualifications by Dawn Smith

We set Dawn Smith quite a feat - to attempt to compile a definitive list of the training qualifications in the UK, providing brief details of qualifications available in the fields of training, learning and development, elearning, coaching and mentoring. Although not strictly a feature, we thought that it deserved its ranking after all her hard work - it did take her many hours I know!

Please let us know if you are updating any of your qualifications so that we can add them to the list.
[email protected]

Verity Gough
Boom or Bust: Is the training industry in crisis? By Verity Gough

This feature was written back in May, before the credit crunch really bit, and we lurched officially into recession.
It was written on the eve of an expected report from Common Purpose, which looked set to predict that the training industry was in crisis - against a background of a record spend on training in 2007 of £38bn. Readers should bear in mind that at the time of writing this feature we were all blissfully unaware of the looming global financial crisis - hindsight is a wonderful thing! Verity Gough went on to win an Avanta Press Award for her feature writing this year, and we're delighted to welcome her in her new role as deputy editor to

Photo of Paul Kearns
Real Evaluation Transforms Organisations by Paul Kearns

Real evaluation is a state of mind and has absolutely nothing to do with happy sheets, questionnaires or surveys, says Paul Kearns. Arguments about whether ROI is the Holy Grail and declarations of a preference for one particular evaluation model over another completely miss the point, he says in this feature. Paul - a long standing champion for greater standards of professionalism within the industry - also wrote a hard hitting series this year called The 21st century learning professional which we'll be republishing over Xmas.

Dawn Smith
A Training needs analysis for Santa by Dawn Smith

This could become the great Xmas classic on and I'm delighted that it made it onto the list. As Dawn wrote herself: "As Christmas draws near, the competencies of Santa and his elves will once more be tested to the limit". She asks an expert panel to consider the training needs of Big S and his team, and the challenges involved in delivering the training.

Xmas crackers
We're also running a series of features that we think are worth a second look, called Xmas crackers. Put simply, these are the features you may have missed earlier in the year that have an element of surprise – be it sound advice, thought-provoking insights or simply a dash of humour. The first is some sage advice from Nigel Paine on how to ensure L&D survives and thrives in the stormy times ahead. To read our Xmas Crackers click on the following titles:

Xmas crackers: Survive & thrive

Xmas crackers: My personal Everest

Xmas crackers: A profile of Charles Jennings

Xmas crackers: Excuse me sir, ever thought of retraining?

Xmas crackers: Avoiding email clangers

Xmas crackers: Intuition as a business tool


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