The ISO initiative that we first mentioned here is becoming contentious. Research-live.com has a great summary of the recent debate raging on the Next Gen Market Research group on LinkedIn on a discussion thread asking whether ISO would matter to US research buyers. Here is an except from the article that sums up the current state of the debate:
Eventually, none other than Finn Raben, director general of Esomar – the organisation for which Anderson acts as a representative in the US – decided to get involved. The thread, said Raben, “seems to have degenerated from the discursive to the vindictive, and anybody who disagrees with Tom’s views on ISO is simply to be subjected to scorn, ridicule or criticism – no doubt I and Esomar will be next”.
Raben wasn’t the only one who felt that way. In response to Anderson’s claims that he wanted the thread to be “fun”, Simon Chadwick said it might be fun “in a puerile, schoolboyish sort of way… but it is also damaging”. Interestingly, Chadwick later revealed that he “doesn’t like” ISO either, but not nearly as much as he doesn’t like “people impugning other people’s motives without bothering to find out facts”. Anderson in turn complained that accusations of being “puerile” were just as much a personal attack as anything he had said.
Certainly, the discussion generated more heat than light, and some contributors chose to rise above it. It was interesting, commented one, “to study how people become adversarial and gravitate to two opposing views when there are often multiple perspectives that aren’t actually in opposition”.
This discussion was supposed to address the question of whether ISO accreditation is helpful, unhelpful, or damaging. You could ask the same question of the discussion itself.
You can read the full article for a blow-by-blow of how the discussion got to this point.
I have been following the thread, and like many quickly realized that it has perhaps degraded to the point where it’s original intent was lost. It’s not for me to cast aspersion or place blame on why this happened, but it certainly demonstrates that the topic is a hot potato right now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out once tempers cool and professionalism reasserts itself.