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It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

Bill Barnett – 8th May 2013

MS PICI had a fantastic day training yesterday, courtesy of my good friends at Indigo, playing on their “Stakeholder Engagement (including Simulation)™” simulator. The simulator is a great piece of kit, which actually takes participants interactively through a project, complete with multiple stakeholders, each with their own agenda – some overt, some hidden.  So, apart from having great fun,  what is a mediator doing attending a workshop primarily aimed at project managers? Well, being experienced in both fields, there are a lot of parallels and therefore a lot of transferable learning’s.

A large part of project management is working with the various parties, and working out how to satisfy their (often conflicting) needs. Good communication is key – get the right message, at the right time, and delivered in the right way and a lot of the conflict can be managed, or even avoided – this is not a million miles away from what a skilled mediator does, by listening to the disputing parties and helping them identify and frame their needs, and then facilitating communication and understanding. As the song says, “It ain’t what you do its the way that you do it, it ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it” and just like mediation, that’s what gets results!!

At the workshop, I was really pleased to bump into an old friend and colleague, Chuck Dymer. Chuck is an inspirational character, who introduced me to De Bono’s creative problem solving tools  (including Lateral Thinking and 6 Thinking Hats). Mediation is a creative activity – unlike litigation, there are no bounds to the outcomes that can be agreed between the parties, and as the mediator I can use these powerful tools and techniques to assist the disputants to come to a creative agreement which meets all parties’ needs.

By Bill Barnett of Thirdside Dispute Mediation