Now obviously the main purpose of this post is to gloat about my being in Barbados to consult on ADR development. But this billboard got me thinking about the ways that our field promotes its services, or rather, about how often we get things wrong. 

I don’t recall seeing a billboard advert like this one before - it’s on the side of the main highway in Barbados (did I mention that I’m here?) and whilst I’ve no idea whether it’s generated any activity, you have to commend the endeavour.

For my experience in ADR centre development in more than a dozen different jurisdictions around the world is that all too often their proponents fall foul of the “Field of Dreams” fallacy. I’m sorry, but “if you build it, they will come” just isn’t so.

Of course, this isn’t the only failing. Some fall into the trap of banging on about the respective merits of litigation vs arbitration vs mediation, whilst others promote their favoured candidate as a panacea, even to the extent that sometimes they sound like they’ve got a solution in search of a problem.

Or there’s the very simplistic “mediation is a wonderful thing; you really ought to try it”. And then there are the war stories: “the parties had a tricky but very interesting dispute and then along came a mediator and all was well”.  Why do so many mediator resumes fall into that trap?

Simple answer. It’s because they’re thinking about themselves and believe they have to talk about themselves.  Which is a shame, because if we talked with our clients about what matters to them - and maybe even asked them - we’d get our messages across far more successfully.

Graham Massie is a member of CEDR Chambers, a panel of highly experienced mediators with proven excellence in providing mediation, training and consultancy services to clients. 

To book Graham as a mediator, contact the CEDR Commercial Team at or call 020 7536 6060.