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Effectiveness Week – Foresight from insight

Effectiveness Week – Foresight from insight
Sera Miller, CEO, Material on why a cross-industry effectiveness culture is a business transformation necessity

Take a look through the programmes of the last few major international conferences you attended or were on your radar. Beyond the natural trend driven themes and ‘next big thing’ narrative, key words like “creativity” and “data” are prolific. Notable by its absence is “effectiveness”.

With the exception of where its combination with the word “creative” makes everyone feel a little more comfortable around it, effectiveness is generally left out in the cold, pressing its perceived sensible little nose up against the glass when the hipsters and cool tech kids are all inside at the party. Why?

Perhaps we feel more comfortable with either because they’re easier to understand at a universal level. Perhaps because their associated reference points as part of our collective cultural and industry wide lexicon give them a more contemporary context. Or maybe just because we don’t have a clear unified definition of meaning or scope.

It’s not operational or structural: client recruitment, capability building and internal focus around effectiveness had never been more prevalent, but the disconnect surrounding marketing communications effectiveness endures. It’s not understanding or belief driven: it’s values, beliefs and behaviours. It’s therefore cultural. So where might a focus on effectiveness culture, business transformation and results take us?

Organisational culture is built on values, beliefs and behaviours; the only way to evolve it is to change behaviour to change thinking. Effectiveness offers an unrivalled framework and shared language for the CFO, CMO and CEO to engage in dialogue. Unifying rather than divisive, effectiveness frames how value is created, delivered and captured – the entire business model – embedding business benefit, not communications results.

Effectiveness Week is intended to be the genesis, not the definitive; the focus is on evidence based-decision making, not awards and measurement. This doesn’t mean marketing – or business – without creativity or a retrospective research driven culture devoid of instinct and risk.

A culture of effectiveness, driven by insight, actionable foresight and creativity, is now a business transformation necessity and the most powerful value creation tool across the C-Suite. Balancing long-term investment and short- term activity has never been more critical for brands; a culture of effectiveness provides a framework for decision making in this context.

But whilst creating and building effectiveness culture doesn’t mean a shift away from traditional or established business values, it’s important to recognise that the fixed narrative of driving shareholder value no longer applies to every scale up or established business (if indeed it ever did). For some businesses at best this is a distraction, at worst an irrelevance.

From the CEO through the business, we must understand the opportunity to create real change that comes with the ability to use what is known about what problems have been solved and what impacts and outcomes have been realised – taking into account inputs, outputs, enablers and blockers but not stopping to look beyond them – and using this knowledge and understanding to plan strategy and move forward.

Effectiveness Week is not a time to look inward or to cling on to some mythical now non-existent competitive advantage or proprietary position. To be truly effective in itself, we must relentlessly focus on an ambition to create this culture industry wide. What happens on the stages in London and in the conference and boardrooms around the UK is just the beginning. Can you afford not to be part of the conversation?

Effectiveness Week takes place from 31 October- 4 November and will deliver over 50 unrivalled thought-leadership sessions from leading clients, agencies and companies on marketing accountability, effectiveness and capability, to fuel the growth of brands. It has been instigated by the IPA and is supported by 12 industry associations and their respective members. The initiative is guided by a cross-category Advisory Board of today’s leading brand marketers and four centres of academic learning. View the programme and buy tickets at


Last updated 19/09/2016

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