Mediation and Structured Negotiation

ACCELERATED DISPUTE RESOLUTION

According to Ministry of Justice statistics only 3% of claims brought in the courts of England and Wales  proceed to trial. That percentage has been fairly consistent for several years. Claims are abandoned for various reasons including lack of funding for legal fees, many are thrown out and many more are settled before trial.

Mediation and structured negotiation are processes which accelerate the settlement route, conserve resources and preserve important relationships. The intervention of a skilled mediator makes all the difference in terms of speed, cost and outcome.

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

A Black Swan event is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”. It is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

Business Benefits

Mediation adds value at any stage of a dispute: the earlier the better. An early agreement can save thousands of pounds and hundreds of man hours. There are other benefits too.

  • A project back on track,
  • supply chain secured,
  • improvements to processes,
  • emerging risks identified before they become liabilities,
  • valuable relationships restored before it is too late.

Sometimes all it takes is a pause in the cycle of blame and denial just long enough for a structured and well managed face-to-face meeting. The independent third party makes a big difference to the quality and potential of that kind of meeting.

 

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The Process

In the hands of a seasoned professional the process works very well. It can be tailored to the people and the problem. With the advent of reliable and secure video conferencing at an affordable price, there are many more options for managing the process so that the parties get the best chance of a negotiated settlement.

Without Prejudice

The ‘without prejudice’ status of a mediation allows the parties to share ideas and build options. The clarity of this status provides certainty that ideas are not received as offers and demands are not conveyed as threats.

Cost Effective

Matters that might take a week or 10 days at trial can be settled in one day. Having the decision makers in the same place at the same time talking about the same thing is priceless.

Confidential

One of the pillars of successful mediation is that people can speak freely without fear of either their words or their behaviour being shared with the wider world. There are two levels of confidentiality in mediation: the process and  and the conversations the parties and their advisers have with the mediator.

Location to Suit the Parties

Jurisdiction is not an issue in where the mediation takes place. Parties can meet anywhere in the world to resolve their disagreements. .
TESTIMONIALS

What The Parties Say

I was particularly impressed by the fact that the diminishing differences between the two parties were represented by Amanda coming into the room with smaller and smaller pieces of paper – starting with a large file and ending up with a Post-It™ note. This was presumably symbolic – but it worked for me!

Director

IT Sector

…we always learn something that we can change immediately to improve our performance.

HR Director

Education Sector

I found Amanda to be very effective demonstrating what, to me, are the key attributes of a mediator, namely being informed, incisive, challenging and encouraging.   This was the case both in preparation discussions and on the day itself.  Amanda was also quick to pick up on potential side issues which could affect the process, and also to pick up on key points from each individual’s perspective.  Her broad background knowledge, not only relating to pensions, help both from a practical perspective and also to provide a credibility and wisdom to her presence.  

Director

Chemical Engineering

Amanda’s style is different from other mediators that I have met. At times the process was not as comfortable as other mediations I have been involved with; that is not a criticism, more an observation of the effectiveness of her approach.

Solicitor

Banking Sector

I liked Amanda’s approach of dealing directly with the clients. She did not ignore them and sought the views from all. Friendly and approachable.

In-house Counsel

Manufacturing

PROCESS DESIGN

One Size Doesn't Always Fit All

Designing the right process to suit the people and the problem.

Option 1

1 DAY

Includes up to 4 hours preparation, 1 day mediation and reasonable follow-up.

Appropriate for: most commercial cases

Option 3

Multi-Day

Includes up to 10 hours preparation, half-day mediation to narrow issues, follow-up and further 1 day mediation.

Appropriate for: complex commercial cases, multi-party disputes, construction projects and disputes involving interest groups and unions.

Option 2

1 DAY preparation Plus 1 day mediation

Includes up to 10 hours preparation, 1 day mediation and reasonable follow-up.

Appropriate for: commercial cases and employment cases

Option 4

open space

Includes up to 10 hours preparation, 1 day Open Space and 1 day follow-up.

Appropriate for: groups from 6 to 100’s. Suitable for complex problem solving, designing strategy and plans, multi-layered teams and disputes between departments.

 

BUSINESS BENEFITS

Business Benefits - Strategy
People often start strategy meetings knowing where they want to end up. That is not a bad thing and yet if you view other contributors as also having an end game which is different from yours, how will you deal with that? A third party can help you evaluate alternatives and create options. More options, greater engagement of team members and better decisions. The outcome may not be what you first thought of.
Business Benefits - Restructuring
Restructuring shouldn’t just be a euphemism for downsizing or redundency. Restructuring is what you do to anticipate trends and prepare for change; when you see your market declining because of innovations and technology; when you see performance fall in certain departments – it is not always about cutting headcount although that can be part of the story. See Employment for examples of negotiating redundancy.
Business Benefits - Project Management
The emphasis on skills and expertise for project teams can often overwhelm the balance between tangible and intangible skill sets. How many projects take account of how the team dynamics will work when things go wrong? Is your number one expert also good at engaging people and are they likely to flag up conflict before it becomes a dispute or is there an expectation that he/she should bring solutions and not problems? The majority of projects either fail or disappoint because people don’t spot the early signs: the smoke signals that tell you that there really is a fire smouldering. Putting teams together with more than just a nod to dealing with problems puts £s on the bottom line.
Business Benefits - Financial Planning
Cutting the budget is an art as much as a science and that requires creativity. The normal budget cycle starts at the top with feedback or comments from those who have to make it work. Engaging the front line in addressing the budget often provides solutions to conflicts in needs and creative solutions. If you want to know how to save money then ask those who have to manage on less than you and see the waste first hand. Increased understanding brings commitment.

Strategy v Plan

Strategy is the ‘where?’, ‘what?’ and ‘why?’. A plan is about tactics: ‘how?’ and ‘by whom?’. The terms are often confused.

Read this article from my favourite ‘thoughtful’ blog.

Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.

Robert Greene

The 33 Strategies of War

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