As co-editor of the ADR Research Network Blog this month, I have invited Michael Leathes to talk about an international collaboration that he curated called ‘The Seven Keys to Unlock Mediation’s Golden Age’. Leathes’ original 2010 article, ‘2020 Vision – Where In The World Will Mediation Be In 10 Years, has inspired 40 dispute resolution thinkers — users, practitioners and scholars — to look a further 10 years into the possible development of mediation, not to predict the future, but to help invent it. I invited Michael to tell us more…
An overview of the Seven Keys by Michael Leathes
As modern mediation enters its 5th full decade, it is timely to admit an inconvenient truth: global uptake of mediation appears to have plateaued far short of its potential. Is the mediation field around the world just going to do the same things over and over while hoping for a major uptick in growth? Einstein famously called this “insanity”.
Several great thinkers have memorably noted that the way to predict the future is to invent it. But this is a challenge in a deeply fragmented, highly competitive, often misunderstood field. ‘The Seven Keys to Unlock Mediation’s Golden Age’ aims to mobilise an international conversation about how the field can trigger exponential growth over the next 10 years.
The introduction by Professor Nadja Alexander and Lela P. Love exhort stakeholders to imagine a new order illustrated by over 20 peer-reviewed propositions by 40 writers in 16 countries. Seven contributors are Australasians. Each piece is no longer than 1,111 words. The propositions are clustered into Seven Keys: Leadership, Data, Education, Profession, Technology, Government and Usage. They intersect to create what Professors Alexander and Love characterise as a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Dr Rosemary Howell and Alan Limbury, with Ken Cloke and Joan Goldsmith, frame the work with a plea for the main players to come together and provide collaborative, mediative leadership with both a unified vision for the field and a clear mission and path to achieve it. A vision and mission that empower stakeholders to become the owners, and not merely renters, of the field’s future. The propositions that follow this call for mediative leadership all describe elements that can help shape the vision and implement it through the mission and include:
- Generating credible science to support mediation skills and processes and to develop new theories from empirical and other field-sourced research data
- Repeating the Global Pound Conference series periodically
- Developing a “Negotiation Index” app packed with instant wisdom and evidence to aid mediators and parties
- Widely teaching mediation as a core subject
- Training mediators more thoroughly, not least in culture and neuroscience
- Ensuring mediation is publicly respected as a true professional practice
- Seeing mediators openly declare what they believe
- Subscribing to a Code of Disclosure
- Leveraging technology more effectively
- Engendering visible Government engagement, including walking the talk and implementing the Singapore Mediation Convention
- Proactively marketing mediation to users
- Promoting mediation to facilitate deal making
- Increasing peer mediation programs in schools
- Promoting the value of women mediators
- Making mediation a pre-requisite to litigation and more systemically encouraged and fused in arbitration
- Helping inexperienced mediators gain a practice foothold with mentoring and practice programmes, and finally
- If the main players collaborate to share leadership internationally and develop a single vision with a credible mission and a comprehensive budget, it should be fundable on a worldwide scale – it’s been done before!
Joanna Kalowski concludes with Many Paths, One Way. She calls upon the world’s leading stakeholders in mediation to chart the new future, adopt and build upon the Seven Keys as a springboard, and develop it collaboratively with energy and enthusiasm on a global scale.
Seven Keys to Unlock Mediation’s Golden Age was serialised on Mediate.com in June and July 2020.
The complete downloadable pdf of the Seven Keys is anticipated to be made available as part of the mediate.com 25th Anniversary in September 2020 as a no-charge e-book. Once published, the work may be reproduced in accordance with a Creative Commons licence provided within the document.
Interviews with many of the Seven Keys’ contributors have also been recorded and will be made available in conjunction with this publication.