Roger Fisher’s death at age 90 provides an opportunity to reflect on his extraordinary impact on conflict resolution and mediation. According to his New York Times obituary, Professor Fisher decided to dedicate his life to helping avoid war after seeing some of the horrors of World War II and its aftermath.
He is likely best remembered as a co-author of “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, ” which has sold millions of copies and has been translated into 36 languages. (Some of those copies were purchased by students in my Alternative Dispute Resolution course at the University of New Haven.)
The Times obituary references his “optimistic can-do brand of problem solving” and his emphasis on the “mutual interests of the disputing parties instead of what separated them.” He taught his students at the Harvard Negotiation Project, which he co-founded, that “Peace is not a piece of paper, but a way of dealing with conflict when it arises.”
Professor Fisher leaves a legacy of both real world engagement to resolve conflicts and publication of a valuable and timeless text that continues to help people in conflict around the globe.