The Mediation Times


Is mediation now a commodity?

by Amanda on April 15, 2010

Special High Grade Zinc - 99.995%

I started my professional life in zinc metal production and metals trading. Special High Grade zinc which was a minimum 99.995% pure and it was the same if it was made in Canada, Belgium, Poland, China or Australia. Standardized and certified. The fun was in finding new ways to use the metal and trading the surplus. Having solved the problem of standardization we got a new one: how to differentiate ourselves in a homogeneous market. And guess what? It all came down to relationships, creativity, imagination and flexibility. Oh! I nearly forgot the biggy – trust.

Originally, zinc was produced to a minimum 98.5% and the composition of the rest depended upon the source of the concentrate (ore). Good Ordinary Brand. You needed to understand the consequences for use of the variations in the balance of the material and that needed knowledge and experience to choose the one that suited you best. Somewhere along the line, someone said “wouldn’t it be nice to have a consistent quality so we know where we are?” and so the much purer electrolytic version was born with its certificate of assurance.

The human compulsion to simplify and catalogue has always fascinated me. It seems to be in direct opposition to what people actually find fun and engaging: variety, choice and personalization and personal relevance. However, the desire to bring greater certainty so that people feel better able to use something is understandable. We just need to understand that it comes with a price.

What I do remember was that there was a much more interesting and profitable market for the less standardized, original smelted version which had infinite variety in the levels of other metals. Customers wanted this version because it resulted in a better product for them.

What if mediation ends up going the same way? Standardized and certified. I am sure there will always be the equivalent of Good Ordinary Brand.

If you would like to hear more about the whys and wherefores on the topic of certification in mediation, then check out the latest podcast from Cafe Mediate which is being recorded tonight and will be available here from 16 April. If you enjoy the podcasts, please leave a comment at the iTunes store.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tammy Lenski. Tammy Lenski said: Well said, @amandabucklow, in your post, Is Mediation Now a Commodity? [...]

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