Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fate is for Juries

I have been struggling with a few Mediator Proposals lately. At the point at which the parties invite me to propose the solution, typically the negotiations have threatened to break down, with a gap that would appear insurmountable. Often, it signals that the parties and their advocates are willing to leave their destiny to fate. Peter Adler, in his new book "Eye of the Storm Leadership", calls these breakdowns "not aberrations, but solutions in progress". A mediator's proposal is not supposed to reflect the likely jury result. That is a measure of fate, with a winner and a loser. It is high stakes, and high risk to both parties. The mediator's proposal, instead, is supposed to be a reflection of what will work to settle the conflict (the solution in progress): a measured consideration based upon a series of confidential communications reflecting the downsides on both sides of a conflict as well as the potential. I am no palm-reader, but when I arrive at a mediator's proposal that is accepted by both sides, I know that it is not reflective of a jury's deliberation, but of my own assessment of the likeliest solution to the conflict presented.

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