On October 20, 2021 I had the opportunity to attend the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Manitoba (ADRIM) Conflict Resolution Day Conference. Thanks to the generous support of the Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law, I was able to engage with practitioners and industry leaders from across the province. The central point of focus was The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters by Priya Parker, a well-researched book that seeks to transform how we come together at work, at home, and in our communities.
Key takeaways included thinking outside the category of meetings (i.e. a staff meeting or a stakeholder consultation) to instead focus on need and vibe– what have you done to connect with the needs of those around your board room table or on your Zoom call, and how have you created a space (even if it is virtual) that lends itself to identifying those needs?
Effective leaders and managers demonstrate what Priya labels generous authority. Contrary to a top-down approach, the most successful managers will use the power vested in them to reflect and refract the voices and ideas of those around them.
Though the ways in which we have gathered have wildly shifted during the pandemic, it has not been the great equalizer that some predicted. There is no one-size-fits-all gathering style any longer. The most successful enterprises will be those who add virtual gatherings to their toolboxes, and allow their team members the flexibility to work and gather in ways that meet their needs.
In many ways, private enterprises have been well ahead of their public counterparts when it comes to dispute resolution, understanding the value of ADR, not just in terms of time and cost savings, but also as a practice that leads to more satisfactory results, and one that better understands the human aspects of conflict. Similarly, I expect that business leaders will likely be at the front of the line in applying The Art of Gathering, seeing the benefits of new gathering styles, and how these can contribute to their success.
Joel Lebois is a lawyer supporting the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management at the University of Manitoba, and an LL.M. candidate at Robson Hall.
The views and opinions expressed in the blogs and case reporter are the views of their authors, and do not represent the views of the Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law, the Faculty of Law, or the University of Manitoba. Academic Members of the University of Manitoba are entitled to academic freedom in the context of a respectful working and learning environment.