OO Blog: 2010 Review

9 January 2011

OO Blog statistics; and open dialogue with readers, for 2010 gave me some interesting insights regarding our broader “OO community” of readers.  So, in case you “missed it” and would like to catch up, here is what we have per blog statistics for our first full and complete year.  There is also a “trend” silently splitting the broader OO community of professionals.

According to WordPress in comparative ranking with all other blogs we are ranked: Awesome!

We posted 15 articles with over 4,100 views or hopefully “readers” for the year.

Tom Kosakowski’s Ombuds Blog was the leading referring site and Organizational Ombudsman came in second.

The most viewed articles for the year were:

  1. The New Ombudsperson: Per Se, Pro Se & Economic Austerity
  2. The New Ombudsperson: Google Voice Technology Review
  3. Ombudsman Career Focus
  4. Ombudsman ADR: The 6 C’s of Sociocratic Peace Building
  5. The New Ombudsman: Esotericism and Ethics

If you’ll notice, we switched from “Ombudsman” to “Ombudsperson” as the header to many article titles.  This was a result of a very tactful and “reminding” email from a “lady” in our profession pointing out my “conflict” by simply asking me to “define” and make more clear my “true progressive” stance about the profession and “lexicon” for being “inclusive” more consistently.  I couldn’t agree more, you know who you are if you read this, thank you.

After almost 2 full years of blogging I’ve exchanged some very enlightening and stimulating conversation through email and phone calls.  I’ve been interviewed several times, participated in “mock mediation” and provided “business insight and coaching” to help individuals get started, which is in alignment with my “other practice”.  Most of these were from the USA, a handful from as far away as eastern Europe.  The one key observation I’ve made is that the profession is “splitting” in “exact alignment” with what is happening in the US economy ie. “elite versus the common man and woman” in terms of the continued dominance of the legal profession and related professional organizations.  A handful of you have contacted me with this observation also, very observant indeed.  There is a “gap” that could be filled to provide balance because the strategic direction of key organizations is “institutional alignment” rather than “social and community” alignment.  There is little or no “linkage” between Corporate Social Responsibility and a corporations ombuds office.  We will have to see how this plays out, but after decades of strategic analysis in my “other practice”, the “course and direction” have been set anew since 2008; and the shifting of “internal politics” whereby many of the leaders in the profession are no longer in a position of influence; rather… positions of “institutional affluence” will now, like in contemporary politics, continue to provide a “caste system” in the profession.

I wish everyone the best for 2011, it’s going to be a very “wild” ride…


Ombudsman Career Focus

3 October 2009

This time of year begins job hunting, interviewing and staffing activities for the year ahead.  On occasion through the long months of 2009 I have received a handful of  queries for information on becoming an ombudsman.  To help satisfy these information request a bit more, here are a couple of resources to contemplate entering the field or transferring to a “lateral” position that might pay more.

At careers.org they provide a broad listing of Ombudsman related titles around ADR, Mediator and Negotiator titles.  While they left out Long Term Care Ombudsman, this resource does give brief job description and alternative considerations for key word job searches on Indeed.com for your local area.  Also keep in mind you can always open your own practice on a consulting basis also.  Hope this helps out in your future for 2010.

If you have not made any firm  decisions on your career, sometimes checking salary and benefits helps with that.  You can find a Google ranked and published Consumer Ombudsman Salary Survey on Payscale.com also.

The idea now is to take the broader titles from the Career.com website and key word search them in Payscale for yourself, it helps to open a free account in which case they store all your salary searches for “current or what if” scenarios you may be contemplating.  After your heart is set on the ideal position, you can then go back to Indeed.com, which again remembers your latest key word or job title searches and alerts you with “new” job post each time you visit the page.  I also keep “Ombudsman Jobs” in my blogroll links to the right here… have a look and click for nationwide listings.

If and when a Health Care Bill passes and is signed into law, you can expect a surge of job openings with NORC and change is in the air because they just redesigned their website offering more resources and information than ever before.  Take a look.

In addition to the above career and job considerations, volunteering can help establish experience for a paid position later and NAFCM provides membership opportunities including expansion and opening of new locations or joining existing member centers.

Given “our” national economic situation in America, from the heart, I wish everyone the best possible in a new career of service to others in future years.

The “Incognito” Ombudsman: A Professional Development Exercise

16 July 2009

I am fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses and more importantly how a personality characteristic for forthright leadership, for example, can be useful in one professional role, but a weakness in another role.  The “trick” is to be aware and let oneself “switch roles” as appropriate, be able to consistently hold to that role and “temper” the skill or strength towards the goal or objective at hand on behalf of clients and not one’s own “interests”.  If you have the opportunity to do this, “practice” it, it can harmonize your strengths in that they won’t become an out of control “weakness” by applying them inappropriately.  It’s also empowering as the “new ombudsman” realizes they can achieve absolute control and mastery over emotions and “ego habits” that could interfere in ADR scenarios where “it’s not about us”, it’s about our client needs.  To the “outside” observer, if you are successfully “incognito”, they might perceive you as practicing “ombudsmanship” style conflict intervention techniques from a business management role for instance.  In “practical practice” this has the distinct advantage of resolving conflicts in an “undeclared informal structure” or process versus having participants become “resistant or intractable” to a formally declared intervention meeting.

The personal background to this is that I do enjoy leading from “the middle”.  In my overall business practice I am expected to provide insight, facts, data, opinions, solutions, experience, wisdom, leadership, best versus worst case scenarios and other attributes, woven and integrated into a document for decision makers.  These are always purposeful to achieve objectives and goals in my engagements and projects in collaboration with clients.  I have though, had to “watch myself” as I personally tend to “see the problem, identify the solution and then get anxious to communicate it”, which is good on one role, but NOT good in Ombudsman ADR and “self directed” negotiation and mediation scenarios.  This IS my weakness I’ve identified and have looked for the opportunity to “balance” it and get a “reign on the animal” in me about it.  Sometimes, this year, I’ve noticed I slip, but this latest opportunity I was successful at practicing it outside of a declared “informal” engagement.

I am a member of on-line communities and groups where I have relationships, collaborators, resources and friends.  Some know me personally, the vast majority only know my “handle” or pseudo ID.  In the last 2 weeks I’ve dropped in on “member posted threads” expressing dissatisfaction, dissent and discontent with a wide variety of issues from the employees boss or company, the melt down of the economy, privatization versus nationalization, to Bush vs Obama policy discussions, member “complaints” about each other and the moderator’s “failures” on the threads; and on it goes.  The moderators in this case actually “contribute” to the heated “polarization” expressing subjective opinions and clearly backed “factions” in the “thread debates” by “moderating” the “opposing opinions off the thread”, censoring speech thus resulting in “oppression and stifling” of “free speech”.  This last issue was getting very extremely heated and enraged some others to say the least.  Me, I’m not a “lurker”, but I do “practice what I preach” and never “inflame” or participate so as to polarize a discussion as a “participant” in the chaos.  For all of you out there who advocate that “conflict is good” and that it presents the opportunity to “engage” your skills, this is it, a way to “walk the talk”, apply our skills in genuine conflict, but without professional consequence.

So, I “incognito” began to step forward in the “threads” posting “neutral” statements and observations in apparent “opposition” to the moderator’s “authority”, my bad (smiles).  This really sparked them to “gang up” on me in the beginning, until I started asking them to “step back, this isn’t personal, remove their ego and subjectivity; and objectively take each ‘rule’ that posters were in violation of and apply it to ALL individuals”, equally and fairly.  I quickly looked around the “threads” and easily found dozens of violations of the posted policies, Terms of Service and “copy n’ pasted” them to the “current debate” with moderators.  This process was “openly visible” to all readers of the thread and moderators, to their credit, let the process unfold fairly without “censoring” my input.  I never disclosed my role, profession, who I am in reality.  I just saw the opportunity and began posting “points for fair and balanced analysis” for everyone, not just moderators.  Some individuals wanted to continue to “agitate” the situation, “taunted moderators”  and so I “intervened” and asked them to “self examine” their recent posts.  If someone were to say that to them using the “charged” language and tone they were projecting, “how would they take it?”.  Keep in mind here everyone was polite, there was not cussing, racism, “battle of the sexes” or other discriminatory “slanderous language” taking place.  People were focused on the points of the issues.  This is what I recognized as the “opportunity” to have good intervention, everyone was mature, it’s just they were passionate about beliefs and mostly, their favorite “political figure” over the other guys.  I participated for about 3 nights, reviewed a month of threads posts; “posted my findings” and for just over a week now, “the peace” has held.  (note: I wrote this article in late May 2009 and have held it till now to determine if the peace would hold and as of this 15th of July date it has, with only one major flare up mid June; however, this last week another “us vs. them” episode was handled with maturity, rational debate and cool emotions by dozens of individuals in the now “healthy debate” over degrees, credentialing, ethics, certification, licensing and other “regulating” practices.  Thus, it’s time to now post this as a “‘measure” of successful “ombudsmanship” methods some 10-11 weeks post intervention.)

So, I’m glad I had this chance to be “incognito” and be a “practice what I preach” Ombudsman not just in a formal role, but at all times.  In this instance I demonstrated to myself that I can  improve my ability to help others “self direct” and NOT bring my “strengths” inappropriately into a situation where it is not the ethical or best practice to “dictate the solution”.  How about you?  Are you “positioned neutrally” to get involved with or engage any social or business networks where you could practice ombudsmanship “incognito”?

Mediate.com MCP OO Editorial Correction

5 June 2009

I have had positive feedback from several subscribers and readers of this blog and the Mediate.com Announces Mediator Certification Program: An OO Editorial Review.  I deliberately left out other significant points and some details that would have made the article way too long for most “reader consumption”, but I must make one “correction” that’s been pointed out more than once to me.

In 1995 the IOA or International Ombudsman Association was the TOA or The Ombudsman Association and UCOA or University and College Ombudsman Association.  The “merger” of the later two organizations formed the IOA in 2005.  Nevertheless, both organizations “aligned” themselves with the ABA’s Mediation Resolutions and accepted their declaration of final  “authority” for purposes of standards and ethics for the Ombudsman profession.   So, this is the technical clarification and historical perspective, however; the “linkage” to the ABA and historical adoptions of their resolutions by many other professional ADR and Mediation organizations is correct.  I’ve researched and documented, where material was accessible to me from “the outside looking in”, and the “legal mediation” relationship that persists today is accurate concerning the IOA.

It’s a good day…

20 January 2009

For whomever may see this, it’s a good day for a variety of reasons.  First, I’ve wanted to “open” this blog for months now and finally things seem to be coming into place, which makes doing this more practical and feasible, finally.  More to come on this “spin off” of my other endeavors, but for now… this is it.

Next, why not start this on President Obama’s swearing in?  Forever; I’ll be able to say that he and I both started something significant and new in hopes of helping people everywhere; and I like that idea.

Future posts will be exclusively “topical” around my experiences as an Ombudsman, in hopes of providing some insight and educating readings on the value of the service and at the same time holding to the ethics and practices of the profession.  I hope this is not too frowned upon by “peers”.  Cheers… OO