Discussion Forum: ODR Related Ideas and Innovations 

This forum is intended to encourage the sharing of ODR related ideas and innovation. We also invite discussion regarding general trends about ODR that may not be included in the rest of the forum discussions. Please post or embed a link to any file you would like included in the forum reply box below.


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Hi all,

A few words on the idea behind this forum:

As we put together the Cyberweek program each year, we are very aware that we are only seeing a part of the picture. There are so many developments in the works out there - far more than could ever be accommodated in the framework of a one-week conference. How to collect, curate and share that?

In addition - to develop as a field, ODR needs open stages and inclusiveness, rather than constraints and limitations. Every time we consider whether something might not be entirely suitable for the Cyberweek program, we are concerned that this very act is constraining the field, rather than spotlighting, celebrating and developing it, as Cyberweek is intended to do.

So, we've decided to create a venue for open, freestyle presentation. Working on a new ODR idea that you want to share? Post about it in this forum, in any format you wish (write about it in text, upload a presentation, record a video-talk on it - whatever you like). Looking for partners for a new research project? Considering the feasibility of a new ODR initiative? Share details here.

Invite others to weigh in on your post - and see what the ODR community has to say about it!

I look forward to seeing the new ODR ideas people are working on.

This discussion is the part of cyberweek that I am the most excited about!  I've been exploring how to apply innovation processes in ADR/ODR/CE (Conflict Engagement) for the past year, and there is so much potential for new ideas, new processes, and innovative ways to address Conflict. I've been learning about and applying Design Thinking, an innovation and creative problem solving process that was developed in the product design field, but has expanded to included services and social problems. Here's a quick intro: https://youtu.be/a7sEoEvT8l8 .

Has anyone else looked into Design Thinking to develop new ideas and processes? 

There is so much room for innovation in the ADR/ODR/Conflict Engagement field, one can start almost anywhere.  I'm using Design Thinking methods to work on an online site that provides useful information to both people in conflict, and also professional conflict engagement/resolution practitioners. I'm doing research and interviews at the moment, and have some preliminary ideas on information to provide, trainings, and ways to build an online platform for conflict coaches. 

What are others working on?

~ Jim 

P.S. - here's a more detailed PDF on one formulation of the Design Thinking process



Design Thinking seems to be a fascinating idea, and what comes to mind first for me are the responses (and lack thereof) from the presidential hopefuls from both the Democrat and GOP debates. It may be a useful tool to cross the hurdle of questions/moderators and into substantive issues on the GOP side and would absolutely be useful when analyzing those issues (one, mentioned at the outset of the video, being poverty...which notably is absent from the debates). 

Without going on too much of a tangent however -- and I'm definitely not interested in talking politics here -- I'd like to ask you for the best tangible example in which you've seen Design Thinking utilized, successfully or otherwise. 

For a critique, something at the end of the video struck me. The narrator said that the world's problems are "simple...and manageable with Design Thinking." Although I think the manageable aspect is true, and is probably the value in Design Thinking, it doesn't necessarily follow, to me, that the problems are simplified. In fact, I might argue that incorporating context/culture into evaluating Conflict makes it more complicated, even if it gets you to more appropriate, manageable solutions. Thoughts? 

Absolutely, Casey! Big problems are not simple and easily manageable. One thing Design Thinking does, though, is starting with a human-centered approach and interviewing/observing people in their culture/contexts. That makes solutions generated much more effective. There is one site that focuses on the big problems using a variation of design thinking (human-centered design) and a lot of volunteer teams: IDEO.org.  Take a look at their Amplify Challenge page, where they are at different stages of a number of challenges (click at different parts of the timeline to see what happened at each stage):

1. How might we make low-income urban areas safer and more empowering ...

2. How might parents in low-income communities ensure children thrive ...

3. How might we improve education and expand learning opportunities fo...

4. How might urban slum communities become more resiliant to the effec...

One of the new resources that I was excited to see this year is not an ODR tool at all, but rather an educational resource that makes good use of video and the web and a social support website to promote conflict resolution skills for students. As people who know me are aware, I'm a big fan and supporter of open access learning materials and I share many of them at my site CREducation.org . The Western Justice Center in California developed these latest materials working with skilled actors familiar with youth settings and released them for free at http://www.schooltools.info . 

The Haven School Tools curriculum is organized into eight levels and appeared to me to be most appropriate for middle and high school classrooms. The individual levels are meant to be presented in order but can be taken à la carte with the teacher’s discretion. Instructions include printable PDF handouts and worksheets to distribute to students. The levels are as follows:

Level I: Analyzing Conflict
Level II: Self Awareness
Level III: Underlying Needs
Level IV: Emotions, Regulation Strategies
Level V: Approaches to Conflict
Level VI: Communication Skills
Level VII: Negotiation
Level VIII: Power

Hi Casey

I am interested in how your asynchronous discussions operate .You say by email. Do you mean through existing email accounts or do you provide a collaborative platform for the messages to be posted? Could you show a screenshot?

Casey - Thanks for the clarification as to email. Frankly, I  much prefer a dedicated platform for the asynchronous discussions through a forum type environment, split into separate caucus areas for each party and a joint area. For the mediator at least, it is much easier to track the conversations than through a busy email account. Given that, thanks to predictive text and sheer carelessness, we have all at one stage or another mis-sent an email (or correctly sent a email but overlooked a tail thread that was not for the eyes of the recipient) I worry about the risks to mediation confidentiality. 

Always delighted to meet new entrants to the ODR market so lets keep in touch. My background is at http://www.themediationroom.com/#!aboutus/cy2g

Based on my work as a virtual business for ages, I've been developing a virtual on-boarding and ongoing orientation process that seeks to avoid disputes based on people not being acclimated to the virtual setting and its unique interactions. So, I suppose this doesn't could as a new ODR tool... more like a way to avoid ODR, or maybe to reserve ODR for disputes that are more focused on content or on second-order relationship issues. I have learned so much from this discussion already - so far. Thanks! 

Hi Teresa - 

I doubt that anyone would argue that those processes you've developed, framed from a conflict prevention perspective (setting aside other goals of the onboarding/orientation) would be right at home in a forum on new ODR ideas!


Couldn't agree more--if ODR is the treatment for conflict, then avoiding conflict altogether, and finding ways to do so, is the cure.

I would love to hear more about your processes and the capacities in which you have (or will in the future) implemented them. Please share! 


I do all the on-boarding myself, as well as large portions of the initial interviews for new people to set the tone and start the bond. 

I have four standard units of on-boarding the person attends with me at the beginning of the first four days.

One is introduces this company and its ways of operating with clients, talking about courtesies as habits and about work and results in anecdotes to set the narrative in which they will play a role, and then with that the reward systems for performance.

Another is the rhythm of group work, from what each meeting is for, and not for, and our fairly simple but clear protocols for email, voice mail, and meeting prep and follow up; this module at first seems like a lot of detail but is, later, given the highest grades because it really does set up guardrails for communication people use with each other when I am not around..

Another is about our integrated approach; this module people love because they feel like they are learning a lot of fun new things, like publishing and digital media - parts of my presentation Monday pulled from it to invite the person to become their own digital best. 

The last is about the client, the bigger picture, and where their project and their tasks sit in that picture. By then, the direct supervisor has been working with the person too, and getting them up to speed with the project. The direct supervisor joins this dialogue and we just "chat' about "it all." 

Daily meetings work like drumbeats and are entirely focused on identifying barriers to deadlines now, but weekly meetings review progress by the same metrics everyone is measured, so people see and celebrate the work. People share what problems they solved - or saw others solve - and I keep bringing up pieces from the orientation and how we can celebrate what we've done or improve. 

I also call people weekly or daily depending on project and pace, and just ask what they need to feel great or work well today ... These calls are also ways to tap into what makes people anxious and what they may not know.

Our monthly meeting is mandatory, and I typically review something "spontaneously" that is a topic I have heard people wondering about from our basics .. and bring in speakers as well as have brief project reviews with Q&A so people feel they are learning.

In the background, I also run monthly one of six training sessions that makes people feel like they are - and they are - learning, such as reading rights-related contracts, or solving client unhappiness.

This, with input from supervisors, keeps ahead of people isolating into disgruntled and unheard states, and with most workers i have had really open relationships where they found a way to broach difficult topics about stresses in the group which we solve together very informally through training and problem-solving. 

The few people who created enormous conflicts ultimately in my experience couldn't hold up in the new virtual setting. Again, my experience only, they lacked an ability to self-monitor. By having the dynamic saturated with consistent and clear guardrails, I was able to help them move out to what they might do better. In fact, the worst case I hired back briefly to do a couple training sessions; it set her up on her next happier freelance work, and it gave signals to the virtual team that people confronted for non-performance could still be respected and valued without harming the work. 

So, in the end, that modeling was more for them than anything - and I look back and code that up as my staying ahead of the conflicts that get imbedded and slow the work down. While I have mediated online between furiously opposed parties in business deals, and done that a lot, I found the experience of modeling respect had far more lasting impact. I'd love to hear what others think about that.



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