25 May AVE. A cry for attention from the CIPR
Every month or so I am left with that defeated feeling of having repeated something I vowed I’d never do again. Namely, feast like a starved animal at my staple McDonalds order of two double cheeseburgers and a large fries.
Following the heinous meal I feel dirty and ashamed.
After reading the various headlines on AVE this past fortnight, I’m struck with the same sense of betrayal and disillusionment.
Why, as an industry, have we decided AVE is a useful topic to still focus serious amounts of energy on?
The CIPR for one, seems to be capricious in its judgement as to whether AVE is worth crusading against. Seven years ago it was holding local events announcing that AVE was dead and we should move on. Less than a fortnight ago it released the strongest condemnation of the ridiculous metric yet, complete with a pledge to punish members found using it.
The AMEC conference, a conference dedicated to pioneering measurement on which the CIPR piggybacked its announcement, seems to have, yet again, gorged on the smorgasbord of outrage that AVE provides and handed the CIPR its opportunity to squeak on about it.
So is this a sign that AVE is still a problem? Or have we been caught up in a coordinated attempt for the limelight to be shone on two organisations that are keen on attention?
I’m swayed towards the latter.
One of the statistics to arise from the AMEC conference was that the use of AVE was in sharp decline. 18% of its members said that clients were asking for AVE as a metric, down from 30% in 2015.
If the Tory government had overseen a 40% decline in our budget deficit they’d be using hyperbole far more punchy than strong and stable. Surely this level of impact, which both the CIPR and AMEC should be recognised and applauded for, indicates that education is working.
With 76% of AMEC’s members suggesting that clients were putting more emphasis on insights than standalone metrics, as an industry our attention should surely be devoted to these other, more positive areas.
Yet the draw of the pulpit was too great for the CIPR. An organisation that is often criticized as being somewhat toothless, the lure of condemning those few (and declining) practitioners using AVE to fire and brimstone was tantalizing.
Of course, there was very little substance to how this inquisition will be policed and judging by some of the subsequent statements made by its president and measurement committee members, the bark is far worse than the bite.
What frustrates me the most is that this heady debate means that we’re not, as an industry, focusing on things that are far more important than a useless metric that’s in its final days.
By resurrecting the issue, we lose sight of areas such as diversity, automation, smart creativity and equality, all of which I suggest would contribute a great deal more towards making the industry more professional and effective.
But a Big Mac is more instantly gratifying than a superfood salad. AVE is the Big Mac topic of the industry and the relevant bodies should know better than to feed off it.