Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today
Mediate.com

Lessons on Improvisation from Paul Newman (1925 - 2008)

by Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam Zadeh
October 2008

From the First Mediation Blog of Jeff Krivis and Mariam Zadeh.

A sign famously hangs in Paul Newman’s Westport, Conn., office that reads, “If I had a plan I would be screwed.” Newman, who died of cancer this year at age 83, firmly believed in the benefit of “creative chaos,” welcoming the opinions of others whether in business or on the movie set.

Newman understood and appreciated that success in today’s age depends on how good we are at improvising rather than merely sticking to a script or plan. The concept of improvisation, while rooted in the arts and music, has widespread application to all disciplines including the legal and ADR field. At its heart, improvisation is a tool that can facilitate greater communication, learning and transformation, which are in and of themselves, the cornerstones of innovation and growth.

At the negotiating table, improvisation demands that parties deal with the reality they are presented in real-time rather than continually revisiting scenarios of what they believe could or should be. By limiting oneself to a scripted plan, options for solving problems are narrowed and opportunities for solutions are more likely to be missed, leading to a failed negotiation. Improvising instead of following a script or a plan, allows one the flexibility to stay nimble, operate more freely and authentically, and invite the participation and entrepreneurship that are essential to success as Newman aptly identified.

Biography



Jeffrey Krivis is the author of two books: Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict about Love, Money, Anger—and the Strategies that Resolved Them, and How To Make Money As A Mediator And Provide Value To Everyone (Wiley/Jossey Bass publisher). He has been a successful mediator and a pioneer in the field for twenty-five years. Krivis serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. He is also an Emeritus member of the board of visitors at Pepperdine. 


Mariam Zadeh was an active trial lawyer in New York City until September 11, 2001, at which time her life was dramatically changed. She moved to Los Angeles, obtained her L.L.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, and became a partner with Jeffrey Krivis at First Mediation Corporation. Since joining Jeffrey Krivis, Mariam has successfully mediated employment, class actions, commercial, premises & professional liability, mass torts, medical malpractice, ERISA and other tort actions as well as matters pending on appeal. In 2007, Mariam was featured as a “Rising Star” in the Southern California Super Lawyers magazine and was profiled by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. She is a published author and frequently lectures and teaches at ADR workshops and classes throughout California.

Comments