Consensus Decision Making (CDM) is a form of collaborative decision making where diverse stakeholders agree to work together towards finding mutually acceptable solutions to complex issues.
Consensus Decision Making works well for those who are involved in multi-party consultation processes as a stakeholder or who would like to learn to manage or lead the process.
This style of collaborative decision making is often useful for professionals such as:
We offer a Consensus Decision Making Certificate Program that is made up of two courses designed to prepare students to participate in or facilitate consensus building and consensus decision-making processes. The first of these courses is our foundational Communications in ADR course which is followed by the Consensus Decision Making course.
Jay White, the President & CEO of Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. in Edmonton, took our Consensus Decision Making course. He uses the skills he learned daily at Aquality Environmental Consulting; they work all across western Canada on a variety of water related projects that support responsible development.
We decided to follow up with Jay a few years after the course to see what the impact has been on his professional life.
What advice do you have for someone who might be thinking about starting training in conflict resolution?
Anybody involved in consultation – managers, leaders, etc. – should take this training. Make the time to invest in yourself; it’s a tremendous contribution to your professional development. I specifically wanted to learn the skills in Consensus Decision Making. I wanted to support my work on the Alberta Water Council and the Alberta Lake Management Society.
What was your favourite part of the course?
The group activities were very memorable, in particular I enjoyed an exercise where I couldn’t offer any input unless I was directly asked by other participants. In the exercise, I was the only person who held a key piece of information for the group’s success. So the group’s success was limited by their ability to reach out and get other’s feedback on the issue.
What important and practical skills have you gained through taking this course?
Every aspect of my day to day business interactions have been improved by this course. In particular, Critical Skills for Resolving Conflict was eye-opening, and quite frankly, life changing. The Four Tongues and Four Ears/Listening for Understanding is something I use every day and reference often. I have referred my staff to most of the modules in the course. Overall, the most important lesson I learned was to listen for understanding, and speak to be understood.
If you’re interested in gaining these skills, find more information about the Certificate in Consensus Decision Making.
By: Robyn Jacobsen
The main reason is that the problems we have to solve today are more complex than they have ever been.
Solving them requires a variety of skill sets, perspectives, and approaches, and a lot of pieces need to come together smoothly for resolution to be successful.
Training programs like the Consensus Decision Making program offered through ADRIA provide a solid foundation for practitioners to build their skills and start to develop the experience they need to successfully manage collaborative, consensus processes.
Collaboration means working together towards solutions. Consensus is the way the group reaches agreement. Consensus usually means that everyone involved agrees to the final solution. A collaborative, consensus approach creates durable solutions to complex issues, while ensuring that everyone can live with the outcome and there are no winners or losers.
This way of doing business is more than just consultation. It provides a forum for participants to have meaningful discussions and to engage in conflict in a constructive way. Participants can discuss and test ideas without prejudice and then build solutions together – the reason participants engage in consensus processes is to produce something better than they can get on their own. Everyone has a unique piece of the puzzle and everyone’s interests are addressed, creating shared ownership and buy-in to the final agreement.
An implicit benefit of consensus processes is that mutual understanding and respect develops as people search together for the solutions. Participants place a huge amount of importance on the trust and relationships they are able to build through these processes.
Working as a facilitator and a mediator of collaborative, consensus processes that are designed to take into account everyone’s interests and find solutions that everyone can agree to is a dream come true, and a passion!
All these years later, I have built extensive experience as a facilitator, planner, advisor, strategist and project manager for a wide range of collaborative dialogues and complex, multi-dimensional issues.
I have recently started my own consulting practice based in Edmonton that provides facilitation and process design services. I focus on designing collaborative processes, consensus building, and interest-based approaches. I have had the amazing opportunity to work with government, industry, and non-government organizations in the resolution of complex public policy issues in Alberta. My role in these discussions requires an integrative and collaborative approach to develop solutions that everyone can live with.
Robyn Jacobsen has 8 years' experience acting as a facilitator, planner, advisor, strategist and project manager for a wide range of collaborative dialogues. Robyn designs and hosts processes for groups who want to meet and work together in a more collaborative way.
Originally posted in December 2016. Edited and updated.
Short descriptions of the positions are listed below with a link to download the full job posting.
Please share with your connections who may be the right fit!
Send a cover letter and your resume to email@example.com by November 26, 2018. No phone calls please. Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Type of Position: Part time, permanent
Hours: Average 20/week
As the ADRIA Administrative Assistant, your responsibilities include member services administration; working with the Executive Director & the Board of Directors, and supporting a small office team. The successful candidate will have strong problem-solving and technology skills, and must possess:
This position requires a degree of flexibility as the successful candidate will be required to provide occasional after-hours and/or extra-hours support for special events, periods of high demand or activity, and vacation coverage for team members. The organization itself is also flexible in terms of accommodating its employees’ personal and professional pursuits.
Download the Full Job Posting with Further Details
Type of Position: Part time, temporary (January to April 2019)
Hours: Average 15-20/week
The Education Assistant is often the first point of contact for students and potential students, as well as for our coaches and instructors. As such, the Education Assistant must be able to communicate course and program details over the phone, in person, and via email in a timely and accurate manner. The Education Assistant is responsible for:
The Education Assistant must be able to work within a provided framework, using and updating existing databases, files, and applications to maintain and access student and course information. The successful candidate will possess excellent organization and communication (written and verbal) skills and will have up to date technological capabilities (such as expert use of Microsoft Office suite and Google Apps, web-based collaborative tools, web-page management/editing, excellent email etiquette).
This year's Conflict Resolution Day was a great success!
Confident Communication workshops were held across the province, throughout the week.
The Proclamation, information fair and workshop at Edmonton City Hall were well attended. We even had the bridges in both Edmonton and Calgary lit up to celebrate the day.
We held our Open House in conjunction with Conflict Resolution Day. Our new classroom space will allow us to continue to offer the best in dispute resolution education; it was very exciting to show it off.
We appreciate everyone who stopped by to check out our new space and enjoy some wine, cheese, and conversation.
We are already looking forward to next year's Conflict Resolution Day, which will be on October 17, 2019.
ADRIA is looking to phase-in one new Arbitration instructor for the National Introductory Arbitration Course in each of Edmonton and Calgary. Instructors should be experienced Arbitrators with the ability to critically assess Arbitration Awards. Adult facilitation experience and/or training is an asset.
If you are interested in instructing for ADRIA please send an expression of interest to Tammy Borowiecki at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 3rd.
A Chartered Arbitrator Designation is required to instruct this course. If you are considering a Chartered Arbitrator Designation, you are still encouraged to apply. The course is offered 1-2 times per year in each city. While this course typically runs Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, instructors must have a flexible schedule in order to be available to teach Monday thru Saturday. You will be required to shadow one full session prior to instructing.
Please include your CV and
The goal of Conflict Resolution Day is to get Albertans talking about their options to work through conflict in a positive and productive way.
The Conflict Resolution Day Alberta Planning Group is a collaboration between the Alberta Government's Dispute Resolution Network and ADR (Appropriate Dispute Resolution) organizations from all over the province, including ADRIA.
We invite you to take part in celebrating the day by joining one of the many in-person events or participating in the webinars, TedTalks, and more offered remotely. Visit the Conflict Resolution Day website to find out more!
You can also check out the conversation on social media! Use the hashtag #CRDayAB or #LetsTalkADR to connect to the conversation. Our Conflict Resolution Day webpage has content from those feeds.
Tune into CBC’s Alberta at Noon for a one-hour program and hear from conflict resolution practitioners from the public and private sector on ways to handle conflict in healthy ways and services you can access. Ask your questions on how to deal with difficult people and ways to resolve issues in productive and healthy ways.
Come join colleagues, partners and ADR supporters to celebrate Conflict Resolution Week and ADRIA's new premises in south Edmonton.
View ADRIA's new office space and our well-appointed classroom facilities. There will be networking opportunities, door prizes and a chance to celebrate ADR in Alberta.
Please extend this invitation to co-workers and colleagues who might share our collective passion for accessible resolution options.
Pre-registration and further details can be found on our website.
October 18 at 9:00am-2:00pm
Join us at the ADR Information Fair in the Atrium at Edmonton City Hall. Representatives from various government and not for profit organizations will be on hand to provide information about ADR services available at their organizations.
Join us in the Atrium of Edmonton City Hall at 10:00 AM to hear October 18, 2018 be proclaimed "Conflict Resolution Day" in Edmonton.
Heritage Room, Edmonton City Hall
October 18 at 12:00pm-1:00pm
Register for the workshop by email: email@example.com
Upstairs Boardroom, High Prairie Public Library
October 18 at 12:00pm-1:30pm
Family and Community Services
Offered during the day at 12:00pm-1:00pm
and again in the evening at 6:30pm-7:30pm
Family and Community Support ServiceOctober 18th 10:00am - 11:00am
Courthouse Mediation Room
October 18 at 1:30pm - 3:00pm
The ADR Institute of Alberta, the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, and the Aga Khan's Conciliation & Arbitration Board (CAB)are collaborating to host a Community Roundtable on Challenges & Opportunities in Dispute Resolution and Prevention, 8-11 am Thursday morning, October 25th in Calgary.
This event will provide a forum for faith groups, community organizations and other stakeholders to discuss and understand the successes and challenges faced by these groups when resolving conflicts. Participants will have an opportunity to share and learn from others as we discuss the tools and resources used by the other organizations. Through these discussions and the compilation of the information you will share, we will work together to advance dispute resolution mechanisms for the betterment of the broader community. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to participate in a valuable community capacity building initiative.
The contributing partners are actively inviting the many community and faith-based groups that experience and work to resolve conflict within their constituencies.
ADRIA members that have clients, contacts, or are actively involved with any such group are encouraged to pass along the attached invitation. A similar session in Toronto attracted representation from the social services sector and numerous faith-based communities. The sharing and outcomes that resulted were hugely beneficial to all participants, and ADRIA would like to ensure that there is expanded and inclusive representation in Calgary.
Register online before Thursday, October 11, 2018.
For further information, please contact Yasifina Somji, Member, Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the Prairies at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 403-463-8342.
A recent BC Court of Appeal case considered the issue of reasonable apprehension of bias when arbitrators have private communications with only one party to the arbitration.
The Court of Appeal concluded that "by allowing [four]ex parte communications about the arbitration proceedings to take place .... the arbitrators placed themselves in an impossible position and undermined their appearance of neutrality." . The Court further noted that this case, and many such "disputes are initiated or defended by self-represented condominium owners. The lawyers acting on the opposite side or as arbitrators in such disputes are usually earning significant professional fees for their roles. It would not be unheard of for them to refer work to one another and to maintain collegial professional relationships. In such a context, the legal professionals involved must be especially vigilant to maintain appropriate professional distance in order to properly perform their roles."
The case provides important procedural and ethical lessons for our arbitration community. The decision further considered the question of whether or not the arbitrators had failed to meet their duty to advise the parties of the possibility of mediation. The Court defined the mediation option as "a chance to explore any misconceptions that the party initiating arbitration might have, to educate that party about the risks and costs implications, and, in a non-adversarial setting, to come up with solutions to alleviate the concerns that might be motivating the arbitration."
ADRIA Arbitrators and Mediators alike are encouraged to read the Court's ruling in detail.
by Paul Conway, ADRIA Executive Director
I've been privy to some interesting discussions these past few weeks, raising questions about the appropriateness of mediation as a response to workplace bullying allegations. Bullying is certainly a recognized and damaging form of harassment, with its own defining characteristics. In my professional experience, the words bullying and harassment are too easily thrown out by a complainant to describe workplace circumstances that are better characterized as interpersonal conflict, but every manager is still obligated to respond appropriately.
The question becomes - how best to respond? How does one triage such a complaint to determine next steps?
The easy out is to convene an investigation, but formal investigations can be expensive, polarizing and very disruptive to the work unit. A more progressive manager might prefer to suggest confidential mediation as the initial response to such allegations, but that brings us back to the special characteristics of bullying. I am now aware that some ADRIA members that specialize in workplace conflict will not take on a mediation file that includes credible allegations of bullying.
A recent article on the Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network website suggests that workplace bullying situations, when they truly meet the definition, include a power imbalance that cannot be safely or adequately addressed through mediation. Much like domestic violence and restorative justice situations, there is a victim/offender relationship that first requires the offender to acknowledge and be accountable for their actions.
Without going into further detail, you are invited to read the post and participate in a discussion in the comments section below.
If not mediation, are there other more appropriate ADR options to address bullying? To what degree must the bullying aspects of a complaint be examined or investigated before mediation or any ADR option is considered?
ADRIA is genuinely interested in hearing your perspectives and reaction to the article and these questions. Leave us a comment!
To leave a comment, click the menu next to the title of the blog post that looks like this:
By Michelle Simpson, President of the Board
Membership feedback is an important contributor to Board & Staff decision making, and ADRIA has been privy to numerous sources of feedback over the past year– notably from the ongoing work of the ADRIA Designation & Training Standards task force that surveyed many within the ADR community. At a recent ADRIA board meeting, one general comment that stood out was the need for better two-way communications and information sharing regarding the value of an ADRIA membership.
As President of ADRIA, and on behalf of the Board, it is my pleasure to provide to you, our members some highlights of our ongoing efforts to provide value for your ADRIA membership.
A Code of Conduct - If you look at the pace of regulation affecting both mediation and arbitration services particularly in family matters across this country you will see how increasing emphasis is being placed on engaging mediators and arbitrators who provide their services pursuant to a Code of Conduct which is enforced by a member organization. Through our partnership with ADRIC, ADRIA members are subject to a National Code of Conduct. ADRIA is in the final stages of strengthening our Complaint & Discipline Policy to ensure accountability and credibility of our professional members to their clients, government and the public.
ADR Professional Development & Education– ADRIA offers a robust program of basic, advanced and specialty ADR training. Your ADRIA staff bring excellent programming and adult education expertise to the table – a resource drawn upon for course development for ADRIA, the ADR Institute of Canada, as well as other Affiliates. We make it a priority to encourage ADRIA members to sit on ADRIC’s national education committees to influence development and delivery of national courses. ADR luncheons with speakers in Calgary & Edmonton, learning sessions, online Bridging the Distance sessions, and symposium/conference opportunities are other ways in which ADRIA support’s professional development and networking
Revenues generated from our PD programs also reduce reliance by ADRIA on membership fees to support ADRIA initiatives, which include advancement of both ADR practices and the ADR profession.
Advocacy and Compensation Issues – ADRIA gained considerable attention and enhanced its reputation through its promulgation of the Mediation Advocacy White Paper in 2016. Advocacy for the profession, the use of ADR, and ADRIA’s constant efforts to bring attention to the need for fair compensation of mediators continue to be the focus of ADRIA’s advocacy efforts with government and other partners.
Regulation of Mediators/Arbitrators – A number of provinces in Canada are starting to regulate the use and/or qualifications of private mediators and arbitrators in certain areas through the use of “designated organizations”. In other words, provincial legislation is specifying that if a “designated organization” such as ADRIA confirms that you are a mediator/arbitrator qualified to provide the mediation/arbitration services requested, then you are deemed “qualified” as a person who may offer their mediation/arbitration services for the specified purpose. ADRIA continues to work hard to be recognized by the Alberta government and by private businesses as a desgination organization and an important source for accessing skilled and capable ADR professionals in Alberta. Government sectors with whom we have engaged include: Alberta Justice (and specifically the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench), Alberta Infrastructure (the new Municipal Government Act), the Dispute Resolution Network of the Alberta Government, and Service Alberta (Construction and Condominiums). ADRIA is fully committed to exploring all future regulatory opportunities which may enhance the value of national ADR designations and your ADRIA membership.
Opportunities for Work – Our Members want ADRIA to help link them to potential clients and to increase their opportunities for work. Many initiatives are geared towards ADRIA being seen as a conduit to find skilled ADR professionals. Requests for assistance and work postings are increasing. Greater awareness and use of our longstanding ADRIA and ADRIC Online Directories of ADR professionals is also part of this effort.
The recent Inter-Municipal Collaboration Framework Regulation outlines new Arbitration processes for Municipal disputes arising under the scope of this legislation. ADRIA is participating on the Advisory committee working on criteria for these Arbitrators
Another new initiative involves working with ADR services within government, to build a Certificate Program offering access to internship placement opportunities with the Alberta Government. The Certificate Program, with enhanced training and skills demonstration, would expand the pool of candidates who could provide quality mediation services to the Alberta Government as employees or contractors.
ADRIA has worked hard in conjunction with many other not for profit ADR organizations since 2013 to influence the Court of Queen’s Bench to reinstate the mandatory ADR Rule requiring the parties to attempt an ADR process prior to setting a matter down for trial. The Court of Queen’s Bench has recently announced a pilot project for 2019, and more private engagements and roster positions are anticipated to support this initiative. This should create new employment and contract opportunities for our membership particularly since appointments for Judicial Dispute Resolution will only be offered to the parties once trial fees are paid by the parties. Private or court annexed ADR options will be made available prior to the collection of any trial fees. We want ADRIA members to be ready!
Standards of Practice – Credible national designations and the need to protect the public form the backbone behind our efforts to ensure that ADRIA is both recognized and trusted as an organization through which its members can deliver competent and professional ADR services.
After learning about user concerns regarding competency of designation holders, the ADRIA Board of Directors commissioned a Task Force to explore the issues and make recommendations. The work of the Task Force thus far has been extensive, and the resultant report will be shared not only with our membership but also with ADRIC with the view of improving the national designations.
A National Federation that provides leverage and influences change - The signs are that ADR is being embraced more and more in government, industry and communities across Canada. ADRIA has worked relentlessly with ADRIC and other ADR organizations in Alberta and Canada to influence change relative to the use of ADR. ADRIA is currently negotiating a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ADR Institute of Canada and all of ADRIC’s Affiliates. It is believed that a renewed MOU and a truly united federation for ADR throughout Canada will increase our collective ability to influence change and create a groundswell of opportunities relative to the use ADR.
Regional Partnerships - ADRIA worked closely with the Government of Alberta and other ADR non-profit organizations to launch the first ever Alberta ADR Symposium this past May. The outcomes from that Symposium have now been collected and the group is working on creating an Alberta-wide ADR organization to push the ADR agenda flowing from the Symposium.
ADRIA, in conjunction with the Canadian Bar Association, Alberta Branch and the ADR Institute of Canada are putting on a one-day symposium in Calgary on November 6, 2018 to the insurance industry in order to introduce the insurance industry to the many ways ADR services can be used to resolve insurance disputes.
Optimizing our Resources – The opportunities to move ADR forward in Alberta and across Canada are growing! There is so much that can be done. At the same time our resources are limited. We have a volunteer Board and a small but dedicated ADRIA staff -none of which are full time. We are very thankful to every dedicated volunteer who brings his or her voice to ADRIA through their involvement with ADRIA and ADRIC committees and task forces. We believe membership engagement can bring membership value (both individually and collectively). We need your passion and involvement in order to move ADR forward in Alberta and throughout Canada.
What are you interested in working on? We will be looking at more and different ways to tap into our membership resources to help increase the value of ADRIA to each and every one of you.
The bottom line- What do you think?
ADRIA is working hard to bring value to your membership. We are here to serve you.
Are we on the right track? Are you feeling it?
How can we support your engagement in your organization?
We welcome your feedback.
Please provide your ideas to the following e-mail address: email@example.com.
Your source for ADR information and expertise.Alberta's association of mediators and arbitrators.
Our main office is located in Edmonton:
#225, Tower 13697 Mill Woods Road NW Edmonton, AB T6K 3L6
Toll Free: 1-800-232-7214
Edmonton area: (780) 433-4881
Fax: (780) 433-9024