Mediation, like other forums where leadership is called for, can be a hard business, not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, every once in a great while, something magical, unplanned, and unexpected happens and the room is suddenly filled with hope and light.
Sometime between 480 and 221 BC during China’s Warring States Period, a general named Wu wrote a short and now widely read treatise on how to win a big fight. The highest excellence, he said, is the “sheathed sword,” achieving your goal without fighting.
Bringing Down a Giraffe
Each of the described four impulses gives rise to tensions in negotiation: the need to compete and claim, the impulse to cooperate and find common ground, the drive for pragmatic and technically competent solutions, and the push for a moral basis in solution-making.
Weapons and Sports Agents
Life imitates art, art imitates life, and both reveal deeper patterns.
The Exceptional Power of Vision
There are many keys to reaching possible agreement. The list includes, among others, discovering not incompatible interests, soothing a hurt relationship, or finding a common enemy. Uncovering a transcending vision can accelerate and amplify the coming together of contending parties. Vision helps achieve agreement.
Lessons from the Iroquois
In our mediation efforts, once we are in the realm of “public policy,” we are inevitably poking our noses into questions of intergenerational equity and “governance” and how authentic collaboration can be achieved or improved.
In Isolation Together
Ok, we’ve got a problem: Britain has announced a new Minister of Loneliness.
Two Converging Trends
Us mediators and consultants try to help people create constructive engagements and dialogues that lead to real problem solving.
The Gang of Fourteen
These are dark times, especially if you are part of the loose community of people who by virtue of nature and/or nurture, are of a mediative persuasion.
The Mann Gulch Fire
I follow the choroeographies and patterns of the craft we call conflict management, but every once in a while I help people really step out of the proverbial box they are in and discover (or stumble on) a peculiar new solution that seems to fit perfectly. Those are the golden moments I live for.
The Ghosts of Melos
Intermediaries, honest brokers, and would-be peacemakers have much to learn from warfare. In fact if you want to understand mediation, learn about war.
Eye of the Storm Leadership: Closure at Appomattox
Political leadership at any level is filled with contradictory imperatives. Competitive, cooperative, moral, and practical impulses tug at each other.
Eye of the Storm Leadership: The Quirky Art of Mugwumps
If you read the articles and blog pieces at www.mediate.com, you stand on ancient shoulders. The impulse to manage conflict constructively goes back 40,000 years and spans 4,000 cultures and language groups.
Eye of the Storm Leadership: Guerilla Bridge Building
Guerilla warfare is unconventional. Instead of relying on large, slow moving armies and doctrines of overwhelming force, guerillas depend on invisibility, highly portable weapons, quick ambushes, booby traps, and hundreds of pressuring tactics that achieve practical offensive or defensive results.
Interview with Peter Adler
This is the complete interview by Robert Benjamin with Peter Adler of Accord 3.0 and Past-President of The Keystone Center, filmed as part of Mediate.com's 'Views from the Eye of the Storm' Video Series.
Into the Mediator's Gray Zone
Like other mediators and arbitrators, I work in the gray zone of human affairs, the interstitial area between hard positions, contending oppositions, and powerfully different assertions about what is “the truth.”
A User's Guide to Joint Fact Finding — "JFF"
Joint Fact Finding (JFF) is a public engagement strategy that creates a needed safe harbor for technical and scientific discussions between all sides.
Disputing at a Panchayat Meeting
When I was twenty-two years old, I did a two-year stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Here is a brief account of a dispute resolution meeting with a local governing council called the panchayat.
The Future of Mediation - Video Interview of Ken Cloke
The use of mediation has grown and evolved over last the thirty years. As the “founders” begin to retire and new voices emerge, what is the future of mediation from a global perspective?
Underdog Negotiating: A Dialogue on Asymmetric Bargaining
Do the Dems still have enough juice to bargain? Is there a strategy or plan? And, regardless of our individual political proclivities, do we as professionals have anything to suggest to current and future Underdogs when it comes to bargaining with Big Dogs?
Predicting the Future of Mediation
I should know better and follow the advice a friend once gave me when he said: “Peter, a shut mouth gathers no foot.” On the other hand, who in the world could possibly resist an invitation from www.mediate.com to opine on the future of something near and dear to my heart and happily rekindle some old quarrels with colleagues?
Pioneer Series: Mediation and Leadership with Philosophies - Video
Peter Adler discusses mediation as a form of leadership. He also talks about his philosophy of when circumstance meets person: one can be a leader or a follower depending on their capabilities and values within that circumstance.
The Limelight Hypothesis, Part 2
Being an essay of opinions and observations on sundry issues related to the practice of negotiation; politics and electioneering; dickering over debt in the nation’s capital; Otto von Bismarck’s admonition about watching laws and sausages being made; a budding theory on the effect of constant attention-mongering from MSNBC, FOX News, and other bloggers, pundits, and blabbermouths; the creation of statutes, ordinances, rules, policies, regulations, and standards; and the making of hot dogs, chorizos, kielbasas, and bratwursts.
The Limelight Hypothesis
There is a Yiddish proverb that says God made man because he loves stories. The world is made of stories and good stories make the world. So here is a good story about negotiation.
From Peter Adler
Terrific materials from all corners of the mediation world. You have achieved excellence and impact so here's a toast to continued health, wealth and wisdom and the 1000th edition!
Expectation and Regret - A Look Back At How Mediation Has Fared In The U.S.
In May, 2013, I gave a keynote talk to the Civil Mediation Council in London for their 7th National Conference. The question I was asked to address was: “What should we in England learn from the U.S. mediation experience?” Said differently, what might others profitably take from the explosive growth of court, community and privately offered mediation over the last 25 years in the U.S.? What hind-sights can we offer now that, by some measures, both countries have succeeded in marrying mediation into their civil law systems and legal cultures and what regrets and appreciations do Americans hold?
"We Are Not a Field" with Peter Adler
As part of his assigned role on this panel presentation, Peter Adler discusses how conflict resolution is perhaps not a field at the Keystone Conference.
Making Hot Dogs
If you like negotiation -- doing it, helping others do it, teaching it, studying it, thinking about it – I hope you paid close attention to the recent beltway debt deal and didn’t avert your eyes. If you watched, you might, depending on your political predilections, have come away with a few conclusions.
Joint Fact Finding A Strategy for Bringing Science, Policy and The Public Together When Matters Get Contentious
JFF procedures are flexible, but have six essential characteristics. (1) They involve multiple stakeholders who may have very different viewpoints; (2) they are collaborative and require people to work together; (3) they are structured, meaning, JFF processes and meetings are not left to chance but are well designed and highly focused dialogues; (4) they are inquiry based and require a robust exploration to understand the problem from all angles; (5) they are interest driven study processes rather than forums for arguing value positions; and (6) they are integrative and multidisciplinary.
The Seven Deadly Sins Of Collaboration
In the yin and yang universe of problem solving and decision-making, collaboration strategies have great appeal. They are friendlier, often more creative, and have the latent possibility of fashioning more enduring and tractable solutions. They also have limitations.
Peter Adler: The Risks of the Increase in Mediation Specializations - Video
Peter Adler speaks of the negatives that come with the increase of specializations in the mediation field; mediation will become more rigid, rule-bound, and will develop professional castes and classes.
Peter Adler: Background of Ho'oponopono - Video
Peter Adler describes the meaning of "Ho'oponopono," the practice in native Hawaiian culture that helps to restore harmony and normality among family members, extended families.
Peter Adler: Developing Intuition in Mediation - Video
Peter Adler describes the art of mediation and how it takes a development of intuition to recognize what a mediator should say and when he/she should say it in a mediation session.
Video: Eye of the Storm Leadership
This is a video introduction to "Eye of the Storm Leadership" by Peter Adler, Ph.D. - 150 Ideas, Stories, Quotes, and Excercises On The Art and Politics of Managing Human Conflicts. See the book and complete video at www.eyeofthestormleadership.com
Preview: "The Keystone Conference" DVD
This is a preview of the "Keystone Conference DVD" from the Consolidating Our Collective Wisdom Conference. This DVD includes: "Are We A Field?" with Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Juliana Birkhoff and Peter Adler; and "Megatrends for Mediators" with Colin Rule, Glen Sigurdson, Kirk Emerson, Ann Gosline, Richard Reuben, Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Chris Honeyman. More information on the DVD is at www.mediate.com/keystone.
Peter Adler: Mediation in India: Panchayat - Video
Peter Adler speaks of his experiences of observing how mediation occurs in rural India, by Panchayats, rural governing bodies that parties in conflict would go to seeking resolutions.
Peter Adler: Problem Solving and Helping Others Determine Solutions - Video
Peter Adler describes what he likes most about mediation: being a problem solver and guiding people to negotiate their own solutions.
Peter Adler: Increase in Specializations - Video
Peter Adler describes his disappointment in the fact that the field has grown, but separated into many specializations, which divide mediators, making it difficult to come together and discuss the field overall.
Peter Adler: Background and Early Training in Hawaii - Video
Peter Adler describes his entry into the mediaton field and the background training he had from an outward bound program in Hawaii, learning a native practice called "Ho'oponopono".
Peter Adler: Experiences Leading to Interest in Mediation: Conflict in India - Video
Peter Adler describes his Peace Corps experience in India and how it may have led to his interest in mediation. He lived in a community with much violent conflict between and among different Indian groups and was intrigued with how the community handled these issues.
Peter Adler: Utilizing Techniques from all Schools of Mediation - Video
Peter Adler discusses what he would emphasize if he were to be a trainer. Mostly, he would attempt to teach how a mediator can use tools from all the schools of mediation instead of being orthodox in mediating from one school.
Peter Adler: Advice to Novice Mediators - Video
Peter Adler talks about advice he might give to novice mediators: have perseverence, be realistic in the work mediators do, don't have high expectations of soap-opera style mediation.
The End of Mediation: An Unhurried Ramble On Why The Field Will Fail And Mediators Will Thrive Over The Next Two Decades!
Brothers and sisters, mediators and facilitators, consensus-builders and collaboration gurus: let us gather down by the river. We have much to discuss, not the least of which is that the end of mediation is upon us.
A Credo For Facilitators
I recently was asked to state clearly and unequivocally to a group of prospective clients what my “philosophy” of facilitation is. To prepare for that, I went back through my files and dug up a “credo” that various colleagues and I put together in 1998 in Hawaii. The statement grew out of a series of discussions about the use and occasional abuse of “facilitation” in the public, private, and civic sectors. The following tenets have held up well over the years and may be of use to others. We encourage readers to copy and disseminate the statement to other groups and individuals who have an interest in facilitation, collaboration, and consensus-building.
Appeasement and Diplomacy: When There is a Tempest in a Teapot, Keep Your Eye on the Teapot!
George Bush recently visited Israel on the occasion of its 60th birthday and, in a speech to the Knesset, put forward thinly veiled criticisms of Barack Obama suggesting that his willingness to negotiate with Iran and Syria is the “false comfort of appeasement.” Out on the campaign trail, John McCain chimed right in. “The President is exactly right.” Various Democrats instantly fired back. Joe Bidden called the president’s comments “bullshit.” Hillary Clinton (rising to Obama’s defense) said Bush and McCain failed to understand the distinction between appeasement and diplomacy. Well, what is the difference between appeasement and diplomacy?
Eye of the Storm Leadership - Chapter One
Peter Adler is pleased to here provide Chapter One of his new book "Eye of the Storm Leadership." This chapter is entitled: Guerilla Bridge Building and includes free access to the accompanying video.
Ten Questions on Leadership for Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama
The U.S. presidential run-up is a time to think about politics, conflict and leadership. The collective challenges we face -- balancing freedom and security, maintaining economic and environmental sustainability, educating our young people, and assuring the health of those who cannot take care of themselves -- crisscross all sorts of historic borders, jurisdictions, and purviews. Making headway on these challenges will necessarily be a team sport.
How will Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama approach them? Imagine for a moment that we could engage all three candidates in an extended dialogue that goes beyond the sound bites and platform promises we have grown too accustomed to. Here is what I would ask:
Introduction to Eye of the Storm Leadership
In the vast galaxy of leadership practices, the 150 ideas that follow focus on making deals, brokering agreements, and managing the inevitable conflicts that occur in politically charged circumstances. They are about communication, negotiation, problem solving, and “guerilla peace making.” The premise is simple and was best stated by philosopher, psychologist, and educator John Dewey: “Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity and sets us at noting and contriving."
The Ok Tedi Negotiations: Rebalancing the Equation in a Chronic Sustainability Dilemma
Between November 2005 and June 2007, a team from The Keystone Center helped organize and implement a multiparty negotiation process aimed at increased redress for people affected by river contamination from the Ok Tedi Mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Ok Tedi is often cited as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in the world. It is also a true sustainability dilemma. The mine produces 20% of PNG’s gross domestic product, but it has also disrupted the traditional food webs and lives of more than 50,000 people by putting 90,000 tons of rock waste and tailings per day into the Fly River system. After 18 months of effort, a major benchmark was accomplished. Delegates of the nine affected regions along the river, the mining company, the government, and others concluded a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that will ultimately give the people in the impacted area about 1.1 billion kina (roughly US$350 million) in funds, projects, and services.
Giving Politics a Makeover
Politics is a hard business. It has been variously described as war without bloodshed (Mao Tse Tung), the conduct of public affairs for private advantage (Ambrose Bierce), and the art of looking for trouble and applying the wrong remedy to it (Earnest Benn). The word itself comes from the Greek “polis” meaning the collective. Politics is all about all of us “together” and the making of choices about the distribution of power, rights, assets, liabilities, and obligations. If you are a mediator or facilitator, this shouldn’t be foreign territory. It is something we help people do all the time.
Keystone Conference: No, We Are Not A Field and Here is Why the Question Matters
if we really are a profession, then let’s stop dithering about it and get on with the hard political organizing needed to stake it out and lay full claim to it. If we are a profession, let’s make very specific recommendations from this conference to that effect and set in motion an agenda for pursuing it. This means finalizing agreed upon principles and practices, creating licensing and regulatory regimes to prevent any further encroachment of our work by other professions, and even poaching back that which has been nibbled away by others. On the other hand, if we are not a field but part of some kind of multifaceted social movement, then let’s not waste more time on professionalization issues and get on with strategically changing a few more parts of our societies for the better.
Reel Negotiation: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Reflections Of Negotiation And Mediation In Film
The visual experience of watching movie scenes is, needless to say, a great learning tool that helps to illustrate, clarify or frame the discussion not only about negotiation and mediation, strategies, techniques and skills, but approaches to problem solving and leadership as well. Many of our favorites are listed below with brief annotations as to why and how we think they might be helpful, along with references to articles and reviews of a few movies that are especially important.
Some Radical Thinking on Centrism, Politics, And the Future of Conflict Management
In the space of a single generation, it would seem, the idea of using less-adversarial methods of conflict management has come of age. But what of the political culture?
Hope For The Future? Follow The Kids!
Resolving complex, highly political, public policy issues is inherently messy. On occasion, a unique chemistry of effective leadership, good technical information, and principled negotiating actually does the job. It beggars the imagination to think that a bunch of smart high school kids could create inspired political breakthroughs where leaders in government, industry, and non-profits have repeatedly failed. Nonetheless, that is what recently happened.
Dialogue By Design: Sixteen Practical Ideas for Organizing and Convening Policy Mediations
“Policy Dialogues” are a form of conflict resolution. They are used in regulatory, standard-setting, rule-making, and policy forming settings in which multiple stakeholders are struggling with an issue that has political urgency. Meetings are held over a period of time, they are usually guided by a facilitator or mediator, and they aspire to produce concrete outputs, i.e. a guidance to government, a proposed rule or regulation, a plan, or a strategy.
Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism
No one is culture free. Yet, the conditions of contemporary history are such that we may now be on the threshold of a new kind of person, a person who is socially and psychologically a product of the interweaving of cultures in the twentieth century.
The Making of a Mediator: Sun Tzu and the Art of War
Mediators and would-be mediators would do well to examine Sun Tzu because The Art of War is actually all about the art of using skillful strategies of intervention to minimize unnecessary confrontation and maximize gains that are within reach.
Managing Scientific and Technical Information In Environmental Cases: Principles and Practices for Mediators and Facilitators
This effort represents ideas gathered from more than a hundred individuals as well as a review of some, though certainly not all, of the relevant literature. The document is an initial attempt to distill and disseminate those key principles and practices that are relevant to managing scientific and technical information in environmental conflicts. The authors hope to advance both the practice and theory of environmental mediation and to launch further thinking and discussion on the issues raised.
Despite our rage, not out of moral or humanistic belief but from practical experience, we also recognize that our anger unleashed will make the situation worse. The violence— at last count, some 6,714 innocent civilians missing or dead---– cannot be left unanswered. Conversely, we also know that doing what seems most simple and obvious will make matters far worse. It leaves us twisted and confused and stuck on the horns of a profound dilemma.
Water, Science, and The Search for Common Ground
Intrinsically, natural resource disputes, whether they are "upstream" issues that involve policy formation or "downstream" matters that involve enforcement and compliance,
pose powerful challenges to civil societies.