WOODEN IT BE NICE: old school ELTon

Well the clock has ticked down on the ELTons 2012, and in less than 24 hours’ time we’ll know who has carried off the coveted awards (my subscription to the ‘awards ceremony stock phrases database’ runs out at midnight tomorrow, so I’m using them up while I can).

I shall be getting outside a glass of wine after conducting interviews with the winners, and everyone sharing the event, in person or online, will be chewing over the results. One thing we can be sure of is that – whatever we make of the judges’ decisions – they will have been arrived at as impartially as possible.

Keen readers of this blog will have spotted Cherry Gough commenting on the contribution made by Nic Underhill, whose idea it was to use the Delphi technique of anonymous group decision-making for the ELTons.

Last week I caught up with Nic in Cairo (ok, he was in Cairo – I was in South London), and he told me that the Delphi technique operates via a series of consensus-building rounds: ‘All judges can see each others' scores and rationales in detail,’ he explains, ‘but crucially not who said what.’

Interestingly, Nic reveals that Delphi – which enables complex group consensus to be reached sensitively and reflectively without undue interference from committee politics or personalities – ‘has its origins in the Cold War, when the Rand Corporation was asked in the 1950s to find a way to work out where Russia was most likely to target its nuclear bombs in the States.’

Nic believes its more peaceful application in the ELTons has worked well over the years, ‘with a few tweaks’, while ‘the long discussions behind the scenes about eligibility, judging criteria and the awarding decisions themselves mirror the engagement and buzz of the ELT industry.’

Incidentally, I was hoping to speak to one of the judges – but while the process they use is made public, their names aren’t.

Yesterday I looked at the scope of the shortlist, mentioning in passing the Lifetime Achievement Award that I also discussed with tomorrow night’s MC, Scott Thornbury. I’m wondering who you think deserves this award, presented for the first time last year to Strategies authors Brian Abbs and Ingrid Freebairn. Any suggestions?


NO OFFENCE: Elton gives his blessing

Finally, one person who isn’t eligible for a lifetime award is the ELTons’ namesake, the man formerly known as Reginald Dwight – but it may interest you to know that the Council did run their idea past him.

‘We panicked about using the word ‘Elton’,’ reveals Cherry Gough, ‘and got in touch with the man himself through some British Council contacts at his Aids foundation. We asked if he’d be offended if we used his name for the awards – he said he wouldn’t.’

So there you have it. Who will win an ELTon tomorrow? And will anyone still be standing by this time tomorrow evening? Join us tomorrow night to find out – we’ll be live-streaming red carpet interviews from 18:15 UK time. I can’t wait.