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

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 (http://lipscombicm.wordpress.com) 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
http://icm.lipscomb.edu

                        author

Larry Bridgesmith

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… MORE >

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