Mediation: Cause or Industry?

Our passion for mediation sometimes makes us speak of it as a cause, something noble and good. Yet paradoxically, if mediation is and remains merely a cause, its reach and impact will be limited.

In response, I believe that we must envision mediation primarily as an industry. Indeed, the future of mediation depends on our creating an economically strong mediation industry, replete with a full value chain of providers — mediators, infrastructure providers (e.g. newresolutionmediation.com/platform, mediate.com, etc.), training and credentialing agencies, business consulting services (e.g. MediationCareer.org), and of course clients

By analogy, fighting disease is a cause. And good causes garner support, which in turn induces change in service of the cause. But when the only motive force behind the change is the goodness of the cause, change is painfully slow.

Consider, in contrast, what happens when a cause is backed by a profit-driven industry — the pharmaceutical industry in my example. The force of that industry – more so even than the goodness of the cause — creates the potential for substantive and rapid change. Witness the eradication of so many diseases, eliminated by the might of a $700 billion global pharmaceutical industry.

I hope ideology – specifically, anti-capitalist, anti-corporatist, and social justice sympathies – doesn’t impede the ability of mediation and its practitioners to flourish and prosper. Our cause will be greatly undermined if that were to happen.

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