The Online Dispute Resolution Bowl: A competition for problem solvers

An online competition for anyone interested in solving “big picture” problems is open for registration.

The Online Dispute Resolution Bowl is a competition requiring teams to complete different objectives by collaborating to develop solutions to some of the most challenging issues in 2018.

The 2018 issues that all teams must address in these qualifying rounds are:

  • Higher education funding
  • Rural water quality
  • Urban drone operations
  • Community policing
  • Net neutrality
  • Refugee resettlement

Organizer Sydney Moore—a senior Drake University law, politics and society major—said the competition tests how well teams collaborate and negotiate.

The Online Dispute Resolution Bowl is sponsored by Des Moines-based Trokt.

“The goal for this first year…we hope to have at least 8 teams competing so we can show that this competition really can work,” Moore says.

To recruit more teams, Moore has reached out to universities to get teams together.

“The world needs to learn how to collaborate, rather than just focusing on what they want,” Moore said. “It’s important to teach undergrads this skill as they are the leaders of tomorrow but also allowing law students to develop and strengthen those skills.”

To qualify for the Online Dispute Resolution Bowl Championship tournament on March 31, teams must complete a six-round regular season. Each competition lasts for an hour, is conducted online and challenges two teams to agree on how to spend one billion dollars fixing a particular issue.

“The ability to negotiate to come to a mutual agreement is absolutely necessary if we want the world and its issues to get better,” Moore said.

Each team is also given a “hidden agenda” that they are looking to achieve in any final agreement. Winners will be determined by a neutral party who will score the teams.

“Important issues are not being solved because we are so focused on our own opinions that nothing can be accomplished,” says Moore. “I wanted to build a competition that rewards people for collaborating. Even when you disagree with someone else on certain details, it doesn’t mean you can’t work together on solving wider issues.”

Moore said a large part of the competition is laying out shared assumptions, considering the options based on those assumptions and agreeing on the best path.

Each team can be as small as a single member but can have up to of three people from the same high school, college, graduate school, company or organization. The competition is open to anyone, with teams qualifying for the ODR Bowl Championship based on how well they perform against other teams at their same level.

While registration costs $150 per team, Trokt is sponsoring the first sixteen teams that register.