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<xTITLE>The World Clamors for a New Kind of Problem Solver: Mediators are you listening?</xTITLE>

The World Clamors for a New Kind of Problem Solver: Mediators are you listening?

by Larry Bridgesmith
September 2010 Larry Bridgesmith
Recently I have run across a variety of articles, books and conversations that convince me that mediators can be in the drivers' seat for significant cultural change if they care to be.  You say, "Whoa, I didn't sign up for that!"  Great.  Skip this message and read the next newsletter piece.

However, if you're still with me, I heard Jonathan Tisch last week at the Nashville Business Journal business breakfast speak on "the power of partnership".  A phenomenally successful financial investor (Loews Corporation), hotelier (Loews Hotels), NFL owner (alas, the NY Giants), educator (trustee Tufts University), Emmy nominated TV Host (CNBC, Fox and PBS “Beyond the Boardroom” series) and philanthropist ($40 million endowment of Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service). Speaking out of a philosophy of abundance rather than scarcity, Tisch regaled the "power of we" (his first book) and the "power of partnership" (his most recent book).  Distilled to its essence Tisch told a compelling story of collaboration over competition, of service over sales and giving over getting.  Sound a bit counter-cultural?  You bet.  However, as synthesists and facilitators of value creation rather than pie splitting, mediators should sit up and take note.

You may have read Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future. If you haven't you really need to.  However, if you don't have time to read both, you really need to pick up his latest work, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  Pink explores the power of internal versus external motivation and declares that intrinsic motivation is the most powerful incentive to change.  Wait a minute!  That's mediator-speak.  "Going below the line", is our stock and trade!

Or perhaps you picked up the Atlantic magazine for June/July 2010 and learned that "The End of Men" has arrived.  Citing phenomenal statistical proof that worldwide female leadership and influence has now passed the tipping point, the authors declare "the end of men" is here.  I don't know that I can go that far.  I believe the Shakers tried that or something similar and it doesn't work as a nation building strategy.  However, mediators should hear the case being built by growing global and national data as support for less competitive problem solving and more collaborative skill sets.

Maybe you read the Wall Street Journal article on August 21 declaring that "the end of management" has been pronounced.  Instead, the power of "mass collaboration" is replacing the industrial era command and control model of leadership.  Coercive power no longer controls outcomes in business and organizations.  Mass collaboration requires a different skill set which pursues mutual self interest rather than win/lose strategies.  The effective leaders are trading their spurs and six-shooters for "three cups of tea" and relationship building tools.

As I blogged about these developments and others ( I thought, "Mediators should be ruling the world!"  These are our traits, our strengths and our turf.  The next President must be a mediator.  The next Nobel Peace Prize winner must be a mediator (oh wait, she was!).

Mediators, rise up.  Our time has come.  Let's rule over the world!  (Oops, see how easy it is to slip back into triumphalism and competitive posturing.)

Seriously, the world clamors for the facilitative problem solver more than the warrior.  The creative collaborator has an enormous cache in our conflict driven culture.  "For such a time as this" we bring the skills of innovation and synthesis to parties in conflict better than any other occupation.

Let's shake off our scarcity mentality and claim the abundance of possibility available when "the whole mind" of analytic and relational thinking takes multiple impossible outcomes and forges a new reality far superior to the old. 

Mediators, our day has come, our era has arrived.

Larry Bridgesmith Esq.
Senior Fellow and Associate Professor
Randy and Rhonda Lowry Chair of Conflict Management
Institute for Conflict Management
Lipscomb University
One University Park Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 372104
office: 615-966-6680
fax: 615-966-7143


Dr. Larry Bridgesmith serves as Senior Fellow, founding Executive Director and Associate Professor at the Institute for Conflict Resolution at Lipscomb University and as President of Creative Collaborations, LLC. He is of counsel to Miller & Martin, PLLC, a law firm with offices in Atlanta, Nashville and Chattanooga. In these roles, he brings over 30 years of experience in dispute resolution and innovative workplace strategies to clients, students and business entities alike. Dr. Bridgesmith integrates the practical, legal and academic "best practices" in dispute resolution strategies in service to his client relationships. He is listed annually in notable attorney rating publications such as LawDragon, SuperLawyers, Chambers USA, Americas Leading Lawyers for Business and Woodward White Inc.’s, America’s Leading Lawyers. Currently serving as president of the Tennessee Association of Mediators, he is also an invited member of the Tennessee Academy of Mediators and the International Academy of Mediators.

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