The other much-more-famous-Jeff-but-spelled-Geoff at Mediator Blah Blah gave his review of the ABA Spring Conference on Dispute Resolution [here].
Much like how he gave it some time before he posted his thoughts on the conference, I too took some time before I posted my response to his post.
So did Geoff have a favorable after taste of the event? He states, "I mean, there may have been some gold nuggets buried deep inside the conference program but, for the most part dear reader, I did not find them."
Never one to mince words, Geoff adds, "The program was tired and some presenters had no business being at the front of the room."
After thinking long and hard about how I felt about his comments, I asked myself if I agree or disagree with him? Firstly, I must admit, the conference was the first I attended so there was really nothing to compare it to. I did make the best of it, and was able to meet many different wonderful people from all over the globe.
But was I challenged as Geoff wanted to be? Did I get any 'nuggets'?
As far as breakthrough knowledge or information, the answer is no, not really. But then the question must be asked- what were my expectations? What was each person's expectations that attended?
For me, just networking with no sinister hidden intentions other than to meet many new people, I found it to be a success on that level. Is that enough for others, maybe not. What I need to keep in perspective is as a resident of NYC, I did not have to book airfare or a hotel so my expenses were much less compared to others.
Would I have the same positive spin of 'networking was enough for me' attitude if I had to fly to San Francisco (where it will be held next year)? Hmm, something to consider.
But enough about me, back to Geoff and his comments. Geoff adds at the end, "It's time for the ABA Dispute Resolution Section to re-evaluate it's conference format and content - maybe less is more as mediation matures and the need for mediation 101 primer sessions diminish."
Yes, the ABA are the ones who put the event together, but why put all the burden on them? Why not have some sort of survey of the members? Is there one done already? A polling of ABA members (heck add non-members like myself) to find what you like and dislike, expect and don't care to see would give the organizers a proper sense of what to include because it is the paying audience that is weighing in. We could call it a massive debriefing...wait a minute, this sounds like consensus building!
To go slightly off track, an idea I have floated around in my head is to eventually do a survey similar to the one Bond University's John Wade did back in April '08. He surveyed experienced mediators to get their insight on their practices during mediation. Something similar could be done on a much larger scale (maybe called "Current Trends in Global Mediation") and/or simply to gauge what would interest the ADR community at conferences.
Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.
Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.
He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.
(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)