Last spring (2006) I had the privilege of attending a three day conference entitled, Master Thinkers Meet Master Practitioners, where the International Academy of Mediators met with various faculty at Harvard. It was an inspirational and stimulating series of meetings. During the conference, Harvard Law School had a special commemoration for Frank A.E. Sander. Frank Sander is considered by many to be the godfather of the modern ADR and mediation movement in this country.
The IAM also had a fireside chat where Jeff Kichaven discussed with Frank Sander some of this history. During this conversation, Mr. Sander entreated the IAM mediators to provide fellowships and economic assistance and mentoring to those who want to enter the field.
I was encouraged today when I stumbled across IAM mediator Robert Creo’s website and discovered that he has instituted a one year practicum where he is doing just that. He has created a dispute resolution fellowship which he models after medical internship or residency programs.
If we are to continue to grow our profession then those who have “made it” in different fora have a duty to share their knowledge and experience with others.
In addition to learning how to market, it is critical for mediators to really learn the art and craft of how to mediate well. The only way to do that is through years of trial and error and study. Or, through apprenticing and mentoring. In mediation we call it “shadowing” another mediator. When you shadow you go and observe a more experienced mediator in action.
In well developed markets, the marketplace may not be forgiving of one who is learning the craft on the job. It will take those with more experience and skill to take those new to the field by the hand and show them the ropes.
If we are to succeed as a profession, we need to institute fellowship opportunities and more systematic mentoring programs. Some but not all of the degree programs in conflict resolution are divorced from the cadre of highly successful commercial mediators. Sure, the mediation market is not limited to merely the mediation of commercial litigated cases. Yes, we want the profession to continue to grow within institutions, universities, businesses and for end users to use directly –and yet, the commercial market represents a significant portion of the dispute resolution business revenue. And so, we cannot ignore the significance of the commercial market while we recognize that it only represents the tip of the iceberg.
It is not always easy to find a successful mediator willing to mentor. As with all marketing, look for someone to whom you can also provide value. I hope that others like Bob Creo will step forward and make a contribution to the profession and invest in its future.
As Ken Cloke said earlier this year, if we are all to succeed each of us must succeed. If we each succeed, we all succeed. (paraphrase)
NEVER GIVE UP!
Your partner in peace,
ps In the Mediation Business & Marketing Success System that I created last year, I interviewed some of the most successful mediators and pioneers in the field and they revealed their success secrets. Check it out at www.mediationmarketingsecrets.com we’re having a summer sale.