“Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one.” These words of Voltaire are as apt today as they were when he wrote them in the 18th century. I don’t know about you but this year seems to be a curious mixture where some people purport to deal in apparent certainties, which…

John and David Sturrock 1. Introduction Several years ago, while travelling back with my son David to Oxford where he was studying as an undergraduate, we discussed my work as a mediator and his study of economics, particularly the learning for us both from Game Theory. I (John) had been familiar with The Prisoners’ Dilemma…

The Olympics have come and gone with all of the emotion and inspiration they bring. In our recent, fully-subscribed, residential Summer School on mediation skills for leaders, we reflected on the learning from Rio. We watched a video replay of the men’s taekwondo -80kg final in which Team GB’s Lutalo Muhammad lost to his Ivory…

Despite some scepticism about the value of “roleplay” most mediation training involves asking people to run a pretend mediation session. I’ve tried various euphemisms to ease trainees’ anxiety – “skills practice”, “simulation”, “sitting with conflict” – but none seems to make it any less daunting. You can read about this activity, watch others do it,…

[A talk given at the recent “100 cases” event in Glasgow to celebrate two years of small claims mediation provided by Strathclyde Mediation Clinic. Judges in Scotland are known as “sheriffs”.] I’ve been rather enjoying my belated return to the small claims court. Like a kind of slow theatre, each Friday afternoon unfolds with impeccable…

In 1861, the then Secretary to the Education Department, Robert Lowe, addressed the UK House of Commons on the pressing matter of elementary education, in particular on the linked questions of access to education, funding, and quality. His proposal was to introduce a system of “payment for results”, designed both to limit the costs of…

Last week I spent some time with a European mediation organisation looking to review its mediator accreditation and practice standards. Somehow I expected a discussion about various accreditation initiatives around the world with perhaps some exploration of “mediation models” and how they fit into national regulatory frameworks. I was pleasantly surprised. What ensued was a…

QMU

“Patients don’t expect doctors to be perfect. They do expect them to strive for perfection by opening up their work to scrutiny” Atul Gawande, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, 6/12/15. A bit of a treat for me last week, when four of my favourite academics came to Edinburgh. They were keynotes at Mediate Scotland…

Catching up on a few episodes of Game of Thrones recently, I was enjoying the string-pulling, manipulation and orchestration being engaged in by almost everyone in the fictional world of Westeros. None of the rulers really make their own decisions, all are influenced and steered by others who all have their own agendas. Some do…

My wife and I recently spent a very convivial evening at the beautiful home in Sydney of leading Australian mediator Alan Limbury and his wife, Dr. Rosemary Howell, who coaches a team from the University of New South Wales in the annual ICC mediation competition. One topic which stimulated some forthright conversation was the use…