Tell me about your company. It was started specifically to mediate conflict…
Yes, to mediate conflict and to work with organizations to open up dialogue. Also, to bring groups together to build stronger teams and find ways to do group problem-solving.
So if organizations, or if we take it to the context of countries as well, have protracted problems, there is a specific process that I use which involves a lot of brainstorming. We establish ground rules which is how the parties will interact with each other. And we try to come up with certain criteria or standards by which the parties themselves can determine what options they’ve proposed would make sense.
When I say criteria, I mean things like:
- Is it fair?
- Is it cost-effective?
- Is it feasible?
- Has it been practiced elsewhere?
- will it be acceptable?
What happens in that process is that criteria become more objective. In fact, I do certain flipcharts and grids, working with the parties to see visually what it is they are coming up with and then they winnow it down to the various options that they’ve suggested in terms of what they think makes the most sense.
What I have found to be very effective is to co-mediate. To work very closely with people in the country I’m working in. For example, for the work I did in Russia, we had counterparts there who were obviously much more knowledgeable about the culture than I could be as an American.
What is very important to me, and others in the field, is that we share our model of mediation, which is a specific process, but then we make sure that it’s adaptable to the country in which we’re working.
The way I like to do it is to enable the people I’m working with, as in Russia for example, to decide what adaptation to take into account – the cultural issues, the values, the approaches to interacting with each other – so it needs to be quite a collaborative process between Americans, in this case, for example, myself and my counterparts in the other countries where I work…