I’ve been doing a lot of writing for other blogs lately, so my posting here has dropped off a bunch, and I want to do something to change that. What is that something? Get up early and write more.
I had a meeting with a new client yesterday. This man retired after 20 years in a corporate job for a major international company. Then he got really creative. For the last few years he’s been working on hobby-type projects—just stuff that interested him—and prototyping different products. One of the products is ready for market, well designed, a fun name, very interesting. (I’ll share more about this in separate post soon). One of the products is a learning system that he’s currently applied to teaching the use of foreign language verbs, and while I don’t do patent work, I think this system may be patentable. The third product is a journaling system that has a wonderfully modular set of components that he could produce and market and also license to others.
I LOVE this kind of person. The way their brains work. The joy they bring to creating products is contagious.
I couldn’t help myself, I started tossing out all kinds of ways to increase sales, leverage content, and share this client’s creativity with the world. What was scheduled for a 1 hour meeting lasted for 2.5 (until his parking time was up and I had another appointment – otherwise we might still be there…). I love how that happens when there is no hourly-billing happening.
So, the level of our business relationship is moving into more of a coaching/consulting relationship instead of being limited to me just drafting contracts and protecting the IP. I’ll now be helping him craft his larger strategy and prioritize which elements should be developed first. Hopefully, this will allow him to spend more of his time doing the things he loves – creating new products and building prototypes.
That’s good. It’s valuable for both of us.
I’m happy to accept more clients like this. If that’s you, come on down. :-)
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I’m now offering Conflict Management and Mediation services. However, since I’m not wearing my lawyer hat when I’m in this role, I’m offering these services through The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business. But, I thought I’d at least share an overview of the services here.
Conflict is an unavoidable part of our lives. The question is: How do we handle that conflict? Do we handle it with grace or outrage? Do we look for opportunities in conflict or do we let ourselves stew in anger?
We know our lives are more fulfilling when we are able to prevent most conflicts, while handling the unavoidable conflicts in a healthy, dignified, and proactive way. At The Space Between Center, we believe there is opportunity in every challenge, and healing is available inside every conflict. This is why The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business is proud to offer Conflict Management services for individuals, businesses, and public organizations.
What is Conflict Management?
Conflict Management is a distinctive combination of prevention, resolution, and education services offered to you exclusively by The SBC. Read on to understand how The SBC uniquely weaves together conflict education, prevention, and resolution to provide creative ways to handle conflict in your life and business.
Often, conflict can be resolved without the need for third-party help if it’s addressed early. Our education services help you learn how to identify a potential conflict, analyze the issues involved, and work toward an appropriate solution before the conflict has escalated. Think of our third-party mediation services as insurance for the big stuff, while using what you learn in our education services to deal effectively with the little things that come up day-to-day all on your own.
1. Negotiation Coaching
When you don’t need a full mediation process, you will still benefit from some negotiation coaching to help form strategies to make the best deal for achieving your long-term interests. Negotiation coaching focuses on a particular relationship or situation.
2. Negotiation Training
Negotiation training helps you or your group learn the critical interest-based negotiation skills needed in every relationship. Training services are focused on the process of interest-based negotiation generally and are not intent upon resolving any single issue or situation as in our coaching engagements.
3. Negotiation Skills Presentations
The professional conflict managers from The Space Between Center are available to give negotiation and deal-making presentations to your group, team, or organization.
Identifying a conflict after it’s happened is easy. Feelings of anger, hurt, and discontentment come to pervade a relationship–whether in our personal lives or in our business lives–making communication difficult or at worst, impossible. Mediation, arbitration, or litigation, are great tools for settling a conflict after it’s happened.
At The SBC, we believe that conflict management can begin at the start of a relationship. Investing extra time laying the groundwork minimizes potential for future conflict. Granted, this approach isn’t practical for all relationships, but in relationships where stress and conflict could potentially cost a great deal, it makes sense to invest energy forming the relationship correctly right from the start.
Relationship Formation Mediation
Similar to conventional conflict resolution mediation–only without the conflict–our process helps people identify and resolve the key issues in a relationship with the goal of minimizing the potential for future conflict.
When to Use Conflict Prevention Services:
- Important business deals
- Multiple owners/investors forming a business
- Key employee hiring
- Significant customer contracts
- Significant supplier contracts
- Pre-nuptial agreements
- Public policy making
Even with extensive planning and foresight, conflict does happen–and it happens everyday. The SBC has a thorough process for humanely and fairly helping you resolve conflicts outside of the legal system–saving you significant time, stress, and money. We offer three approaches.
We work to help the parties in conflict find their own creative resolution to the conflict. We do not make decisions or sell a specific agenda, but instead provide a safe space and process within which the people searching for resolution can find a solution. We don’t do this the same way as most mediators, so be sure to read the “what makes us different” section of this page.
2. Conflict Assessment
If you’re unsure of whether mediation or coaching will work in your situation, we can conduct an assessment to help identify issues and risks associated with attempting to mediate the conflict.
3. Conflict Coaching
If you would like us to coach you through dealing with a conflict yourself, we’re happy to help counsel you through this stressful situation. This is NOT a legal service. If you need legal counsel in a conflict situation, we can refer you to lawyers we trust.
What Makes SBC Conflict Management Different?
- More than money is at stake in any conflict.
- The mediation process should be used as an opportunity to heal relationships and look for new opportunities for collaboration whenever possible.
- Opportunity is hidden in almost every conflict.
- Understanding the individual personality types at the negotiation/mediation table is essential for finding resolution.
- Given a fair and safe process, most conflicts can be resolved between the parties rather than decided by a third party.
- The mediator is NOT the decision-maker. The mediator facilitates resolution between the parties by helping the parties discover and agree upon a solution themselves.
- People have done and will do the best they can in any given situation.
- Creative solutions are encouraged and honored.
- Measures of “quality” are inherently subjective, at least in the creative industries.
- Creative Services Industry
- Technology Entrepreneurs
- Information Entrepreneurs
- Internet Marketing
- Business Start-up
- Business Divorce
Distinctive Mediation Process
Many of the processes of conflict management are universal, especially in mediation situations. However, at The Space Between Center, we do a few things a bit differently. We think our approach brings added value to the process and increases the chances that you will find a successful resolution to conflict or make a better deal to avoid future conflict.
Focus on Preparation
We invest more energy in preparation than many mediation professionals because we think it is better to go into a mediation session with great information and conscious strategy rather than walking in cold and hoping the process will magically yield a wonderful solution. Because conflicts are the result of personal interaction, we invest time understanding the people and building strategy in two primary ways.
1. Personality Assessment
We ONLY work with conflict when everyone at the table is willing to complete an Enneagram Personality Assessment and share this report with the mediator/coach. This process is built into our engagement fee and allows everyone to understand the personal approaches to conflict, stress, success, and communication much more quickly and accurately than trying to build that picture during the course of the mediation. We encourage (but do not require) both parties to share the top-level results with each other in an effort to facilitate understanding and effective communication. Finally, we believe that the assessment report is a valuable tool for personal understanding and development outside of the mediation context, which insures at least one ongoing beneficial outcome from any conflict.
2. Negotiation Toolkit
We invest significant effort coaching each party to achieve the best result from mediation. This includes:
a. Issue Identification
It’s part of our job to make sure all the issues in the conflict are identified. We may not need to address them all in mediation, but we want to make sure that each party is making conscious choices about what is on the table and what is not.
b. BATNA Definition
Perhaps the most important element of successful conflict resolution or negotiation–especially in the mediation setting–is having a clear statement of your Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement (“BATNA”) or, what happens if we walk away. We’ll make sure you know your BATNA before you come to the table so that you can recognize and accept a better alternative when you see it.
c. Technology Training
Because we use online video conferencing technology during mediation, we make sure that each party has practiced using the technology and is comfortable before the group session(s). We want the technology to assist in resolution, not add anxiety or frustration. We’ll schedule the group meeting only after each party is comfortable and competent using the online systems.
In-person mediations are the norm in most firms and we are happy to facilitate in-person, meeting either in our Fort Collins, Colorado offices, or at your location. But, for those of you who do not want to invest the travel time and expense for your team or the mediator, we offer secure, confidential mediation services via the Internet using state-of-the-art video- and audio-conferencing technology. While there are some undeniable advantages to in-person meetings, our investment in pre-mediation preparation combined with the right technology-savvy parties allows for effective online mediation–saving you time, money and stress. The technical requirements are only your telephone, web cam on your computer, and a decent Internet connection.
Many wonderful mediators are not lawyers, and many mediators who were or are lawyers focused their careers in areas other than agreement drafting. The Conflict Management professionals working through The Space Between Center are attorneys who have drafted literally hundreds (probably thousands) of agreements between individuals and businesses. They know how to get the essentials drafted into the resolution document without wasting time and energy on things that just add confusion.
The Space Between Center’s Conflict Management Team is lead by Kevin E. Houchin, Esq. Kevin is the Founder of The Space Between Center, an attorney, and a negotiator with deep experience in the creative business niche. Kevin has been negotiating deals and resolving conflicts for over 20 years.
Other conflict management professionals may be engaged on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the conflict prevention or resolution situation.
To discuss hiring The Space Between Center to help with your Conflict Management strategy or situation, please call 1-970-493-1070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I decided to go into this year without a plan—goals yes, plan no. We’re a few months in, so it’s time to take a look at how this is working out.
There have been some major accomplishments including:
1. Completing the manuscript for my next book: The Secrets of Creative Leadership.
I’ve been working on this book for several years. I was frustrated because my understanding and thoughts kept evolving far faster than I could write and re-write. Finally, I had the break-through thought of shifting it from a focus on entrepreneurial business to a more inclusive approach to leadership (which is really what the book has been about the whole time). Then I took a day off during spring break and focused to get the whole manuscript ready to share.
I had not realized that some of my general frustration and discontent with something I couldn’t identify had to do with wanting to get that project finished to make room for the other things I wanted to do. I’m usually pretty good at finishing projects (even though I have a lot of projects going at once), so it shouldn’t have surprised me so much to be so relieved when I finished the manuscript. A project that stood in “open” mode for over 3 years is stressful. While it’s still not “finished” (which it will be when it’s published and on the shelves), we’re on the down-hill side of the project now. I know it WILL be shared with the people who are interested, it’s not just sitting in my drawer waiting to be completed anymore.
That feels good. It was a major goal, but I didn’t have a plan for when it would be finished this year. Each of the 3 years prior had me planning to finish the book, then failing to implement my own plans. This is one instance where it appears surrendering my plan actually helped accomplish my goal.
Let me know if you’re interested in reading the manuscript and perhaps providing a quote or publishing a full review.
2. Mediation Training
I’ve been wanting to move into mediation for a long time because I’m good at helping people reach agreements in order to avoid conflict in the first place, and to resolve conflict after it’s come up. I find myself coaching people in negotiation strategies almost daily. I also do a lot of multi-owner business start-ups where I find myself being “the lawyer for the deal” which is really a perfect example of using mediation techniques to minimize the potential for serious conflict before it has a chance to ignite.
I’m working right now to craft service offerings using these mediation skills in a few different categories:
- Negotiation Skills Presentations
- Negotiation Skills Training
- Coaching (separate from representation) individuals/organizations in Conflict
- Conflict Assessment: Analysis of Situations with Suggestions for Resolution Approach
- Pre-Conflict Mediation: Facilitating Deal Negotiations at the Beginning of the Relationship with the Intent of Minimizing Potential Conflicts in the Future.
- and, yes, actually Mediating Conflict.
I’ll be offering these services through The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business rather than through my law firm, although the Coaching and Assessment services might sometimes fit into or require engagement through the law firm.
Of course I now have a list of blog posts about negotiation and mediation that I’ll be working through (probably over at lawyerist.com).
I’m also thinking of putting an unusual emphasis on the preparation and planning elements of conflict resolution and prevention, maybe going so far as to require everyone at the table to complete an enneagram personality assessment and share the results with me so that I can coach them more effectively relative to how they personally approach conflict, as well as how to use their strengths and weaknesses in the conflict at hand, and in future negotiations.
I like the idea of finding as many opportunities for growth in conflict as possible. If you’re interest in this kind of approach to your next negotiation, please shoot me an email.
I did not have a plan for when this would happen either. In fact, I had hoped to take the certification course in January, but it was full. So, my plan would have been ruined anyway – and if I would have had a full plan, I would have been attached to the outcome and gotten ticked off when the plan didn’t come together in exactly the way I wanted it to. So, in this case, not having a plan made my life easier because I didn’t get angry when I got the news the January workshop didn’t have a seat open for me.
3. New Space Between Center Program.
We’re looking at launching some new mastermind programs for entrepreneurs and lawyers starting in June and continuing through the end of 2011. We’re still shaping the content, but of course it will include coaching on flat-fee/membership client engagement models for service businesses including law firms. I MIGHT come up with some programs specifically around interest-based negotiation approaches as a separate series of calls/webinars.
If you would like to be kept informed about what we’re doing at SBC, please visit the Center’s Website and join the mailing list.
So, in summary, the first few months of life after surrendering my former preoccupation with planning seem to have resulted in several major accomplishments that historically did not happen when I WAS planning. There may be a spiritual paradox unfolding around me—that planning might sometimes actually get in the way of accomplishing one’s goals.
Before you get all up in my face about about that last statement, know that I’m not saying one should never plan. I’m just saying that my experiment with focusing on the “what” instead of the “how” seems to be resulting in some nice progress. I still plan, but I’m trying to keep the plans flexible, and most importantly I try not to get attached to the outcome. That attachment to outcome seems (for me) to happen almost at the instant of planning. It may be different for you.
I’d love to have some more conversations about this in the comments section if you’re willing to share.
Thanks for reading this far.
Here’s the video from my Ignite Fort Collins #7 talk. It comes down to this: Wisdom is only found when we share a combined experience with a mutually understood language. Those languages can be in any form, written, spoken, symbolic, etc. Engage the experience. Learn the language. Share the Wisdom.
Take a look a the other great Ignite Fort Collins talks while you’re on the site.