Second Blog from Robert Pitts, Deputy CEO
have probably been with us for as long as we’ve had written
language. The Romans certainly used abbreviations or ‘Sigla’; the
most famous being SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) and this can
still be found chiselled and stamped on the ruins and ancient coins
of Rome. Fast forward 2,000 years and acronyms are alive and kicking.
From the darkly humorous found in doctor’s notes (e.g. GPO – good
for parts only or UBI – unexplained beer injury) to more everyday
examples like CCTV, or the welcoming WC.
are many things that unite our sector and help to make it a unique
community of professions and trades. But for me there’s one thing
that feels a little like a touchstone. And that’s the
all-pervading, inescapable use of acronyms. They are everywhere. Even
the most cursory review of professional body names will unveil a
myriad of initialized names.
is of course simply shorthand for often lengthy and complex
organisational titles. Being able to revert to RPS or ACCA can be
enormously helpful. But not so helpful to those on the outside,
scratching their heads and thinking WTF!
PARN have been lucky enough to be working with one or two brand new
professional bodies. One stumped us with a simple question, ‘What
do you think we should be called?’.
not every day that we get asked that question. And the answer to that
deceptively simple question, may set a course for that professional
body for many years to come. It got me thinking about the
conventions we have in the sector around the names of professional
bodies. But also about the ways in which these abbreviations are
perceived by the general public and new entrants to the profession.
many simply reflect a level of attained status such as Chartership
and Royal College. But what of the more mundane elements of the
naming within our sector?
see a great many institutes. The term certainly conveys a
centre of learning and excellence, a designation shared with
universities and colleges around the world. We might deduce origins
stemming back to a learned institute or centre of study.
are also many societies suggesting a banding together of
like-minded practitioners, coming together perhaps to protect and
promote their interests and those of their service users. The word
society tends also to suggest something that is formed
naturally, and is perhaps not always tangible.
apparently very similar but more commonly used (Google 2020)
nomenclature association tends perhaps to reflect a more
concrete coming together; something that has been created through
endeavour. I think perhaps most of us would argue that association
and society, when applied to organisations in our sector, are
fair to say that professional bodies are really quite conservative in
their approach to names. As a sector we have resisted the temptation
to borrow from the world of advertising and marketing and dream up
ever more fantastical names with entirely opaque origins and abstract
references to the host body. Acronyms have served us well for a very
long time and have no doubt proofed many organisations from the
subterfuge of contemporary name trends – thank goodness!
we can’t also help but wonder if this simple device will continue
to come good for us - especially when it comes to the importance of
attracting the new wave of millennial practitioners. Will they know
their AGCAS from their ACEVO?