The following glossary can help you understand some of the jargon used in the mediation/facilitation discipline.

Adaptive management – A flexible and dynamic management approach which is modified when new data is acquired or with a change in circumstances.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – Originally used to refer to processes “alternative” to litigation, such as mediation, facilitation, early neutral evaluation, etc. ADR currently encompasses a list of dozens of processes

Arbitration - §44.1011(1) F.S.- a process where by a neutral third person or panel, called an arbitrator or arbitration panel, considers the facts and arguments presented by the parties and renders a decision which may be binding or nonbinding

Capacity-Building – Education and training with the objective of elevating the skills of individuals and the capacity of institutions in resources management.

Collaborative Process – One form of decision making in which groups create consensus by having participants work toward mutual satisfaction of interests. Participants are responsible for helping each other reach their goals and satisfy their needs. These processes are based on a philosophy of ‘discuss, agree, implement’ and aim to assist parties with differing views to work together to create solutions to which they can all agree. An important element is allowing time for trust to build among the participants and an important responsibility of the leader of a collaborative process is team building.

Conflict Assessment – A process in which a neutral assists in identifying which issues of controversy are involved in a given situation. This is often accomplished through a variety of methods including surveys and stakeholder interviews. The following information may be obtained or developed during this process: causes of the conflict are discovered or revealed; affected parties are identified; interests of affected parties are identified, and the decision making method most valuable for the resolution of the issues is suggested.

Conflict Resolution – ‘A process by which two or more conflicting parties improve their situation by cooperative action…’ Conflict resolution aims to create benefits to all parties in the conflict, not simply cessation of conflict. The concerns of conflicted parties are addressed in order to seek solutions that will have both long and short term beneficial outcomes.

Conflict Prevention- A process of anticipating the emergence or causes of conflict and attempting to prevent it through the convening of interested or vested stakeholders to make recommendations or educate constituencies and oversee implementation actions.

Consensus Building – A collaborative decision-making technique in which a neutral (often a facilitator or mediator) is used to assist in the building of agreement among multiple stakeholders including: governments at all levels, government agencies, user groups, citizen and homeowner groups, developers and local communities regarding policy matters, environmental conflicts or other controversial issues. Agreement is sought through informed discussion, negotiation, transparency and public participation.

Facilitation – The use of third party neutrals to help multi-party work groups accomplish the content of their work by providing process leadership and process expertise or a meeting of a group of people at which a facilitator structures and manages group process to help the group meet its goal.

Facilitator - A person who makes a group’s work easier by structuring and guiding the participation of group members.

Mediation - §44.1011(2)- a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and ease the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and nonadversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement.

Mitigation – Prevention, elimination, reduction or control of a project’s negative environmental effects by avoiding or minimizing the effects, or by providing substitute resources as compensation.

Process Design – The organizing and ordering of activities which will lead a group to accomplish its goals or mandates. Process design includes: stakeholder analysis (who is or should be at the table), designing realistic agendas for each day of meeting; incorporating various ways for participants and observers of the process to engage and communicate; keeping group memory in the form of recording (usually handwritten on flipcharts or by participants on worksheets) and reports; helping the group adopt an organizational structure for use in their work; adaptive management of the process (flexibility); maintaining links of communication through email and other forms of distribution; balancing of interests; assuring respect and acknowledgement of varying learning and communication styles; ensuring that participants are making informed decisions (through presentations, papers and other methods); and other considerations.

Public Participation- Processes in which the advice, recommendations, input and suggestions of the public are solicited, recorded and used in decision making. This differs from public information processes which are designed solely for the purpose of giving information to those in attendance and not soliciting their responses or opinions.

Risk assessment – Technique to quantify risks and thus provide some guidance as to which problems need the most prompt attention and how they might be addressed.

Stakeholder – A resource user/rentor/owner who has an interest in the subject of discussion; such as community members, local, state, and federal government representatives, non-governmental organizations, businesses, developers, and scientists who may represent that interest and act as the spokesperson for that interest on a committee, commission, etc.

Structured Techniques- Carefully orchestrated methods for helping a group accomplish a particular task. It is a way of organizing the activity of a group. Each technique consists of a prescribed set of steps, which, if followed, produce a predictable outcome form.

Sustainable development – A process in which the use of resources, direction of investments, orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with the needs of the economy, the environment and the social structure in order to preserve resources and aesthetics for future generations as well as those of present generations.

Transparency – A decision-making quality in which the process is conducted openly and with participation from all groups potentially affected by the outcome of the decision.


Janice M. Fleischer, J.D. • 0ffices in Tallahassee and Miami
400 Capital Circle SE Suite 18-143 • Tallahassee, Florida 32301 • Office: 850-877-8939 Fax: 850-216-2568
Miami office: 305-815-4855