The Electronic Discussion on
Group Facilitation
Process Expertise for Group Effectiveness
Moderator: Sandor P. Schuman

Mediation and Facilitation

A collection of material on compiled by
Sandor P. Schuman, sschuman@albany.edu

Contents:

1. A description of a workshop entitled: “Mediation vs. Facilitation:  Are they really the same, or different”

2. A 1995 series of posts on the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation:  misc.business.facilitators / grp-facl@albany.edu

3. A post from Dispute-res that touches on the use of the term “facilitation.”

4. A reference to a discussion of the issue by Roger Schwarz

5. A questionnaire to explore differences in practice between mediators and facilitators.

6. A 2002 series of posts on grp-facl@listserv.albany.edu

1. Mediation vs. Facilitation:  Are they really the same, or different?


A Workshop with Sandy Schuman

At the start of a meeting of the SPIDR Section on Environmental and Public Disputes, each of about 75 attendees stood in turn to introduce themselves.  As the introductions proceeded towards the back of the room, attendees started to suffer from “introduction overload,” and few bothered to turn around to see the people introducing themselves. As introductions proceeded, I was surprised at the number of individuals who introduced themselves as a “mediator/facilitator.”  When my turn came (I was near the back of the room) I introduced myself, saying that “I am a facilitator, not a mediator.”  At once, the room of faces turned around.  Through the ensuing conference days, I was asked on many occasions what I meant.

Mediation and facilitation are often used interchangeably in describing the neutral role in multi-party situations.  At meetings of professional mediators, those who work with multi-party disputes often introduce themselves as a “mediator/facilitator.”  Surprisingly, this is not the case at meetings of professional facilitators.

The terms mediation and facilitation are both applied to multi-party situations where the role of the neutral is to help the parties reach agreement.  In such situations, is there a real difference between mediation and facilitation?  Is facilitation simply the application of mediation to multi-party disputes?  Does mediator training differ substantially from facilitator training?  If a “mediator” and a “facilitator” were put in the same situation would they respond in basically the same way?

This presentation brings into sharp focus the similarities and differences between mediation and facilitation.  The history of the development of each will highlight some of the assumptions that underlie the behaviors of mediators and facilitators.  When to use mediation vs. facilitation will be discussed.


2. A series of posts on the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation:  misc.business.facilitators / Grp-Facl@Albany.edu

 

From: russgold@netaxs.com (Russell Gold)

Newsgroups: misc.business.facilitators

Subject: Re: Facilitation vs. Mediation

Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 21:48:22 -0500

 

In article <3k48vk$hnl@rebecca.albany.edu>, ss6250@albnyvms.bitnet wrote:

 

> I am a facilitator.  My expertise is in how groups work and how they

> can work together more effectively to solve problems and make decisions.

> Most of my work involves public policy issues in which multiple

> organizations and interest groups participate.

>

> There is often some confusion about the difference (if any) between

> facilitation and mediation.  Mediators often describe themselves as

> a "mediator/ facilitator" without necessarily making any distinction.

> (In contrast, I do not typically hear facilitators describe themselves

> as "facilitators/ mediators.")

>

> What do you view as the difference between mediation and facilitation?

 

In the tug-of-war and intense rivalry of negotiations, a mediator helps

ease the natural friction between the sides. He / she acts as a neutral

party  and sometime go-between, trying to keep negotiations focused,

offering an outsider's perspective, and possibly suggesting ways to break

an impasse.

 

With regard to facilitation, the man who taught me (Jim Rough) claimed

that there are three different forms of facilitation. I don't recall how

he defined them and I only know the style that he teaches.  In this style,

a facilitator does not offer *any* content to a discussion, but only

guides the process, reflecting the comments of the participants to ensure

that all viewpoints are heard and understood. He helps achieve closure and

consensus through a variety of techniques, including brainstorming and

creative problem solving.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Russell Gold                     | "... society is tradition and order

russgold@netaxs.com (preferred)  | and reverence, not a series of cheap

russgold@aol.com                 | bargains between selfish interests."

 

================================================================================

 

From: uhl@solaria.hac.com (Walter Paul Uhl)

Newsgroups: misc.business.facilitators

Subject: Re: Facilitation vs. Mediation

Date: 16 Mar 1995 01:36:40 GMT

My experience suggests that facilitators are called into a situation

where a team is attempting to solve a problem but can't quite find

the direction or consensus.  Usually to help maintain the focus of the

group.

 

Mediators on the other hand tend to be called in when two group reach

a wall during negotiations.  Some middle ground needs to be found so

that some compromise can be reached.

 

In the first situation, one hopes the team as a whole will benefit

and the greater good will be served.  In the second, each group

will experience a loss or a gain because fairness is the focus, not

the greater good.

 

But then again, I have a nasty cold, my head is thumping and the

clock says that it is time to go home.

 

The Optimist 8;)

 

Walter Uhl

uhl@solaria.hac.com

 

================================================================================

 

From: sigurd@strauss.udel.edu (Sigurd Andersen)

Newsgroups: misc.business.facilitators

Subject: Re: Facilitation vs. Mediation

Date: 16 Mar 1995 18:21:20 -0500

 

To me, mediation is involved when two (or more) parties are in

conflict, and need to find some sort of resolution to that conflict.

 

Facilitation is more general -- making the interactions in a meeting

work more smoothly (I think of facilitation in terms of meetings;

others may apply the term to other contexts, too).

 

--

Sigurd Andersen    Internet: sigurd@strauss.udel.edu   User Services

     __o            or  Sigurd.Andersen@MVS.udel.edu   023 Smith Hall

   _ \<,_           or, simply,    sigurd@udel.edu     Univ. of Delaware

  (_)/ (_)         Ph: (302) 831-1992  Fax: 831-4205   Newark, DE. 19716

 

Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 03:11:54 -0700 (MST)

From: Daniel Mittleman <DMITTLEMAN@BPA.Arizona.EDU>

Subject: Re: Facilitation vs. Mediation

    A group of us sat and discussed this question over beer at that IAF

    (International Association of Facilitators) conference in January.  The

    gist of the discussion was that we agreed that mediation is a subset of

    facilitation.  Mediation implies a particular type of problem with two

    or more sides holding disparate views and the mediator works with them

    to resolve their differences.  Facilitation can include such activity,

    but includes a superset of other activities where group can also be

    cooperative (in the sense they have shared goals).

 

    But I would agree that this typology is very rough - hey, we were

    drinking!

 

    One other thing we agreed upon was that mediators are trained in

    specific skills that would be of use to facilitators.  My ex-girlfriend

    is a mediator and I have asked her to proposed a "mediation training

    for facilitators" workshop for IAF next year.

daniel david mittleman     -     danny@arizona.edu     -     (602) 621-2932

 

===========================================================================

 

From zzumeta@igc.apc.org Fri Mar  1 08:41:11 1996

Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 22:07:13 -0800

From: Zena Zumeta <zzumeta@igc.apc.org>

Reply to: "Group Facilitation - Process Expertise for Group Effectiveness."

     <GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANY.EDU>

To: Multiple recipients of list GRP-FACL <GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANY.EDU>

Subject: Re: Conflict Management - how to?

 

Definitely, a mediator has their own process, which the parties must go

through, whereas a facilitator creates the process WITH the

clients/participants.  Partly this is because the clients don't know

the process, and partly because with conflict, structure is ultra-important.

 

A mediator is more comfortable with conflict, and studies resolution

techniques and impasse-dissolving techniques.  A lot of the process IS

facilitation, plus interpersonal dynamics and conflict resolution.

 

Zena Zumeta

Ann Arbor Mediation Center

 

===========================================================================

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

>Date:         Fri, 1 Mar 1996 00:34:53 +0000

>From: John Windmueller <jwind@cais.cais.com>

>Subject:      Re: Conflict Management - how to?

>To: Multiple recipients of list GRP-FACL <GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANY.EDU>

>

>> But I return to the general idea that all of the above are skills that

>> the Facilitator Excellent holds in his/er bag of tricks; it is just that

>> some callings demand exceptional levels of a particular skill. Yet,

>> it is all facilitating.

>

>I agree completely that a well-rounded facilitator ought hold in his

>or her "bag of tricks & skills" certain skills and process tools to

>help deal with conflict.  Likewise, a good conflict resolution

>specialist is going to hold several facilitation skills.  However, to

>me that doesn't imply that no important difference exists.

>

>My own personal experience (a key disclaimer), is that conflict

>resolution practitioners tend to:

>  - Have a more focused grounding in theories of the roots and

>dynamics of conflict, and that those theories of conflict focus less

>on communication styles and dynamics than those adopted by many

>facilitators.

>  - Have a set of process models (e.g. formal mediation, the problem

>solving workshop, etc.) that differ from many used in facilitation.

>  - Definitely as a "mediator", and usually as an "intervener" or

>"resolutionary", CR folk define their role in the process (and in

>relation to crafting that process) in different ways then a

>facilitator might.  I've often noticed that interveners, by training,

>often tend to craft and own the process of intervention more so than

>many facilitation models I've witnessed.  (that's only based on

>anecdotal experience).  It certainly varies.

>

>These aren't deep truths... just some observations that come to mind.

>

>  -- John

>

>------------------------------------------------------------

>John Windmueller

>http://osf1.gmu.edu/~jwindmue/conflict.html

>Doctoral Student

>Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution

 

===========================================================================

 

Date: Fri, 01 Mar 1996 10:01:56 -0500

From: "Sandor P. Schuman" <sschuman@cnsvax.albany.edu>

To: Multiple recipients of list GRP-FACL <GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANY.EDU>

Subject: Re: Conflict Management - how to?

 

Another demonstration of the difficulty in differentiating mediation and

facilitation.  My apologies for "shooting this one down," but it can be

interpreted in a way that would make for an unfair generalization:

 

On Thu, 29 Feb 1996, Zena Zumeta wrote:

 

> Definitely, a mediator has their own process, which the parties must go

> through, whereas a facilitator creates the process WITH the

> clients/participants.  Partly this is because the clients don't know

> the process, and partly because with conflict, structure is ultra-important.

 

Many, perhaps most, processes used by facilitators are highly prescribed;

the group is not involved at all in their creation.  NGT (Delbecq, Van de

Ven and Gustafson, 1975, Group Techniques for Program Planning, Scott

Foresman) is perhaps the best known example.  Van Gundy (Techniques of

Structured Problem Solving, Second Edition, 1988, Van Nostrand Reinhold)

catalogues nearly 150 "prescriptions" for structured processes that can be

used by group facilitators.  Also, facilitators may prescribe the ground

rules which underlie the application of any particular process (Schwartz,

1994, The Skilled Facilitator, Jossey-Bass).

 

Nonetheless, it may be that facilitators are more likely than mediators to

involve the group in the development of ground rules and in making

decisions about the process to be used, perhaps especially where the aim of

facilitation is to aid in the process of group development, not just in

the process of solving the problem at hand.

 

Also, it is worth noting that in mediation of complex cases involving

multiple parties (such as negotiated rulemaking), the parties are quite

often heavily involved in the development of ground rules or protocols

and often have a great deal to say about the process.  It is also

interesting to note that in these highly conflictual situations the

"intervener" is often referred to as a "facilitator" rather than "mediator."

 

What John says below holds an important key to the difference between

mediation and facilitation.  People who have been trained as

"facilitators" have a very heritage from those who have been trained as

"mediators."  While two experts, one a facilitator by training, and the

other a mediator, might each be well equipped to work with a group

addressing a highly complex and conflictual situation, each would likely

approach the group quite differently based on the norms, biases, and

traditions that stem from their quite different training backgrounds.

 

 > >From: John Windmueller <jwind@cais.cais.com>

 

> >My own personal experience (a key disclaimer), is that conflict

> >resolution practitioners tend to:

> >  - Have a more focused grounding in theories of the roots and

> >dynamics of conflict, and that those theories of conflict focus less

> >on communication styles and dynamics than those adopted by many

> >facilitators.

> >  - Have a set of process models (e.g. formal mediation, the problem

> >solving workshop, etc.) that differ from many used in facilitation.

> >  - Definitely as a "mediator", and usually as an "intervener" or

> >"resolutionary", CR folk define their role in the process (and in

> >relation to crafting that process) in different ways then a

> >facilitator might.  I've often noticed that interveners, by training,

> >often tend to craft and own the process of intervention more so than

> >many facilitation models I've witnessed.  (that's only based on

> >anecdotal experience).  It certainly varies.

 

===========================================================================

 

3. A post from Dispute-res that touches on the use of the term “facilitation.”

 

Date: Tue, 05 Mar 1996 03:28:22 -0500

From: George R Coppen <alacrity@dircon.co.uk>

To: Multiple recipients of list <dispute-res@listserv.law.cornell.edu>

Subject: Self Knowledge of the Mediator

 

Hi,

 

This is my first input to this meeting so please forgive me if I have picked

up on something that has already been suggested.  Also, I have never been

involved in 'mediation' as it has been described on this meeting so perhaps

it is a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread.

 

Looking at it from the outside, I feel that self knowledge of the mediator

is of the utmost importance.  It is, I think, very difficult to listen to

what another person is saying (the music behind the words) without the self

butting in and saying, "I know what you are talking about, I understand, I

have been there before."  It is then that the process of listening and

understanding ceases because the mediator then only listens to the self and

perhaps then seeks to mediate his or her own problems with those seeking

mediation on their own volition or otherwise. 

 

Also, I'm not too keen on the word "mediator" to describe this particular

function as it describes someone who intervenes between people in order to

bring about an agreement.  I am sure that this is quite accurate as

intervention is what mediation seems to be all about but perhaps it would be

more helpful to everyone concerned to call a mediator a "Facilitator", that

is, someone who helps others to arrive at an agreement.  It puts a different

mind-frame on the whole process.

 

Best wishes,

 

George Coppen

 

4. A reference to a discussion of the issue by Roger Schwarz

 

Schwarz, Roger (1994).  The Skilled Facilitator:  Practical Wisdom for Developing Effective Groups.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass. 

 

On pages 12-15 Schwarz presents a thoughtful discussion of the similarities and differences in a section entitled “Comparing Facilitation and Mediation.” 

 

5. A questionnaire to explore differences in practice between mediators and facilitators.

Mediation vs. Facilitation

Following is a questionnaire to explore what, if any, differences are found in the practices of mediators vs. facilitators.  Your comments are welcome.

I identify myself as a:

¨      Mediator                    Facilitator

¨      Mediator/ Facilitator       Facilitator/ Mediator

Generally speaking, in situations where there is conflict among parties or factions, I am more likely to:

 

¨         Stand during meetings

¨         Sit during meetings

¨         Other (specify)

 

¨         Record notes privately (e.g., on a notepad)

¨         Record notes publicly (e.g., on a flip chart)

¨         Other (specify)

 

¨         Meet with parties or factions separately and also with

¨         Meet only with everyone together

¨         Other (specify)

 

¨         Arrange seating so that people from the same party are together

¨         Arrange seating so that people are intermixed

¨         Allow people to sit wherever they want

¨         Other (specify)

 

In general, which is a more important outcome?

¨         Reaching a consensus agreement

¨         Enhancing the ability of the participants to work together in the future

Do you think mediation and facilitation mean much the same thing?

¨         Yes

¨         No

If no, how would you characterize the differences?  What practices, values, or assumptions do you think reflect differences between mediation and facilitation?

Please return this questionnaire to:
Sandy Schuman, Program on Group Effectiveness, University at Albany,
Draper 118, Albany  NY  12222; (518) 465-8872 (voice and fax); S.Schuman@Albany.edu

This questionnaire was administered only in a small pilot study, the results of which were very limited.  Two behaviors that appeared to be differentiate mediators and facilitators were that mediators sit while facilitators stand; and mediators do not allow choice in seating while facilitators do.

6. A 2002 series of posts on grp-facl@listserv.albany.edu

 
Date:         Wed, 16 Oct 2002 14:40:44 EDT
Sender:       Group Facilitation <GRP-FACL@LISTSERV.ALBANY.EDU>
From:         Deborah Levine <Councildiversity@cs.com>
Subject:      Facilitation vs. Conflict Resoution

 

I have been asked to teach a workshop on facilitation and one on conflict

resolution for the same company.  I would appreciate any thoughts on defining

the two so that they are quite different.  My own thinking is that the

conflict resolution workshop should flow naturally from the one on

facilitation but not sure how to make that happen. Any advice?

Deborah Levine

Communication Prose

 
Date:         Wed, 16 Oct 2002 17:31:45 -0400
From:         Wayne Nelson <wnelson@icacan.ca>

 

On 10/16/02 2:40 PM, "Deborah Levine" wrote:

 

> I have been asked to teach a workshop on facilitation and one on conflict

> resolution for the same company.  I would appreciate any thoughts on defining

> the two so that they are quite different.

 

It sounds kind of "cute", but I think of most of the facilitation that we do

as conflict prevention.  Setting up an atmosphere in which conflict doesn't

happen.  Like health promotion in relation to treatment.

 

We also facilitate when we are engaged in mediation and negotiation.  It

becomes joint problem solving once the parties have :

 

- decided to get together

- Identified what has happened

- expressed how it has affected them

 

At that point, they can work together to deal with the effects and impacts.

 

I think of it as facilitating conciliation - enabling people to come

together in a meaningful way.

 

They are distinct, but they are also very closely connected.

 

Wayne

< >  < > < > < > < > < > < > < >

Wayne Nelson < > ICA Associates Inc.

416-691-2316 < > wnelson@icacan.ca < > http://icacan.ca

 
Date:         Wed, 16 Oct 2002 17:28:30 -0500
From:         Richard Scherberger <rshrbrgr@earthlink.net>

 

At 17:31 10/16/2002 -0400, Wayne Nelson wrote:

 

>It sounds kind of "cute", but I think of most of the facilitation that we do

>as conflict prevention.  Setting up an atmosphere in which conflict doesn't

>happen.  Like health promotion in relation to treatment.

 

I'm not sure I understand.  What steps do you take to ensure conflict won't

happen?  It seems to me that when two or more people are in one place,

there is 100% potential for conflict.  I wonder if by preventing conflict

you are taking steps to avoid it....

 

 

Richard J. Scherberger, Jr.

Senior Partner

Executive Leadership Skills

128 Clubhouse Lane

Madison, AL 35757

(256) 837-7230 (Voice)

(256) 837-5813 (Fax)

(256) 457-1887 (cell)

http://www.executiveleadershipskills.com

 
Date:         Wed, 16 Oct 2002 19:02:58 -0500
From:         Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 16 Oct 02, at 17:28, Richard Scherberger wrote:

 

> At 17:31 10/16/2002 -0400, Wayne Nelson wrote:

>

> >It sounds kind of "cute", but I think of most of the facilitation that we

> >do as conflict prevention.  Setting up an atmosphere in which conflict

> >doesn't happen.  Like health promotion in relation to treatment.

>

> I'm not sure I understand.  What steps do you take to ensure conflict

> won't happen?  It seems to me that when two or more people are in one

> place, there is 100% potential for conflict.  I wonder if by preventing

> conflict you are taking steps to avoid it....

 

It's rare I see the phrase "conflict prevention" outside the work I do.

A few years ago I wrote a book called Conflict Prevention In The

Workplace - Using Cooperative Communication which looked at

one aspect of preventing conflict.

 

There are some articles on this topic at my site at

http://www.work911.com/articles.htm

 

One of which tries to delineate between conflict avoidance and

conflict prevention.

 

I'm not sure I would agree with Wayne Nelson BUT certainly

facilitation can be used as a process for ensuring that the "conflict

probability" is minimized WITHOUT creating a conflict avoiding

culture.

 

There's another issue perhaps and that is whether conflict is an

on/off, yes/no thing, or whether it's more accurate to describe it as

a process with a generally hard to define starting point, until it hits

a certain level of impact.

 

 

Robert Bacal

 
Date:         Wed, 16 Oct 2002 22:42:14 -0400
From:         WayneNelson <wnelson@icacan.ca>

 

At 05:28 PM 10/16/02 -0500, Richard Scherberger wrote:

>What steps do you take to ensure conflict won't

>happen?  It seems to me that when two or more people are in one place,

>there is 100% potential for conflict.

 

I guess I'm using the word "impressionisticly" rather than literally. I

think you work with a group to ensure that genuine participation opens up a

healthy dialogue and leads to common understandings.  Facilitators who work

that way help people set up an atmosphere in which collaboration is more

likely than conflict.

 

Of course there will always be conflict. In a healthy atmosphere, conflict

is part of the creative, collaborative process. A variety of perspectives

can lead to a breakthrough in understanding rather than a clash.

 

Without writing a treatise, that's how I think facilitation plays a role in

"preventing" conflict.

 

Wayne

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 06:02:46 -0500
From:         Richard Scherberger <rshrbrgr@earthlink.net>

 

Thank you for the clarification...and thank you especially for not writing

a treatise.

 

At 22:42 10/16/2002 -0400, WayneNelson wrote:

IWithout writing a treatise, that's how I think facilitation plays a role in

>"preventing" conflict.

 

Richard J. Scherberger, Jr.

Senior Partner

Executive Leadership Skills

128 Clubhouse Lane

Madison, AL 35757

(256) 837-7230 (Voice)

(256) 837-5813 (Fax)

(256) 457-1887 (cell)

http://www.executiveleadershipskills.com

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 10:28:36 -0700
From:         Alan Kitty <alanklink@comcast.net>

 

Here is a scenario where conflict did not exist WITHIN the group.

 

Suppose a group is tasked with designing a widget. All agree on the design

and the methods prior to the meeting. In this and all design-related

respects, this group is well-aligned. A meeting is called to learn about and

recommend best practices to ensure successful implementation (and

manufacture) of the design.

 

To ensure things run smoothly and in a timely fashion, a facilitator is

brought in to moderate the meeting and analyze the results. Everyone quickly

reaches agreement on best practices that should be used, but during the

discussion a shared frustration is subtly mentioned: other groups in the

organization were tasked with designing another type of widget that would

require use of the same equipment, which indirectly affected best practices

decision-making.

 

The facilitator understood that there was an organizational disconnect

caused by an outside conflict which might affect the organization's

efficiency. This was neither the meeting, nor the participants, to resolve

the conflict. In other words, if the cause of the conflict is external, said

conflict may or may not carry into the meeting. Discovery of a conflict does

make it clear that conflict resolution facilitation is necessary.

AK

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 10:45:49 -0400
From:         Wayne Nelson <wnelson@icacan.ca>

 

On 10/17/02 7:27 AM, "Ned Ruete" wrote:

> What do others think?

 

Having though about it a little more, I think that the question I'd like to

be exploring is how are these things related to each other.  I think we are

likely to find out more about their distinctness if we look at how they are

connected than we are by looking at how they are separate.

 

Facilitators facilitate strategic planning, team development, problem

solving etc. and they also facilitate mediation, negotiation, conciliation

and community building.  Maybe the distinctness comes in the fact that we

don¹t play much of a role in litigation.

 

All of these processes are regularly done without self conscious

facilitation as well.  There are approaches to all of them that are more

related to management, bargaining etc than they are to anything that I'd

call facilitation.  I don't think that the people who originated the Harvard

model for negotiation called themselves facilitators. As I recall most of

the metaphors were more negotiator oriented.  It's a different approach.

 

Going back to Jon Jenkin's "Trainer - Facilitator - Consultant"

descriptions, I'd say that a lot of these approaches are more oriented to

consultation than facilitation. Some negotiators do facilitate, but many

consult.

 

Wayne

 

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 11:05:24 -0400
From:         Wayne Nelson <wnelson@icacan.ca>

 

On 10/17/02 1:28 PM, "Alan Kitty" wrote:

> The facilitator understood that there was an organizational disconnect

> caused by an outside conflict which might affect the organization's

> efficiency. This was neither the meeting, nor the participants, to resolve

> the conflict. In other words, if the cause of the conflict is external, said

> conflict may or may not carry into the meeting. Discovery of a conflict does

> make it clear that conflict resolution facilitation is necessary.

 

Exactly. That's part of the facilitator's role - helping the group see the

relationships among the factors affecting their work together.

 

Wayne

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 17:14:41 -0400
From:         Peter Altschul <atschu@erols.com>

 

Wayne writes, in part:

 

"I guess I'm using the word "impressionisticly" rather than literally. I

think you work with a group to ensure that genuine participation opens up a

healthy dialogue and leads to common understandings.  Facilitators who work

that way help people set up an atmosphere in which collaboration is more

likely than conflict."

 

I would substitute "competition" in place of the last statement of the word

"conflict".

 

Peter

 

Date:         Fri, 18 Oct 2002 08:07:09 -0400
From:         Ned Ruete <nruete@csc.com>

 

Elizabeth wrote:

 

> The skills that we use in facilitation are

> mostly the same as we use in conflict resolution

> but the whole element of emotion (how we express

> it and how others react to how we express it) can

> make discussions around issues/ needs much more difficult.

 

I would like to hear some thoughts on how the transition from facilitation

to conflict resolution is the same as/different than the transition from

basic facilitation to developmental facilitation a la Schwarz.  There seems

to be a connection in the words, but I've never worked in either space so I

might be missing some important differences.

 

Ned Ruete

 
Date:         Thu, 17 Oct 2002 21:42:32 -0400
From:         Elizabeth George <elizabethgeorge@egcweb.com>

 

I just delivered a presentation on Conflict in the Workplace to a business

community here in Kentucky.  In it, I positioned facilitation and

collaborative decision-making processes as ways to help ensure that conflict

(which is inevitable) does not become destructive. If one views conflict as

an outgrowth of diversity, then it is inevitable.  It's how one handles the

diversity that drives whether difference becomes an engine for creativity or

something destructive in an organization. Daniel Dana wrote a really

practical book on Conflict in the workplace which is geared toward

non-practioners so very easy to understand/explain concepts to others.  He

talked about conflict as having four elements: interdependency in the

relationship, feelings of anger and blame toward the other person for it,

and behavior that causes a problem.  One way to make the transition from

facilitation into conflict resolution might be to introduce this whole

concept of emotion...  The skills that we use in facilitation are mostly the

same as we use in conflict resolution but the whole element of emotion (how

we express it and how others react to how we express it) can make

discussions around issues/ needs much more difficult.   Then perhaps talk to

how one deals with anger or withdrawal in other people so that both parties

can get to the issues at hand rather than the issues getting lost in all the

emotion and subsequent reactions.

 

 

Elizabeth George (new listserv member; am learning lots from all of you!)

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 08:53:23 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

From: Sandor P Schuman <sschuman@csc.albany.edu>

 

On Fri, 18 Oct 2002, Ned Ruete wrote:

 

> I would like to hear some thoughts on how the transition from

> facilitation to conflict resolution is the same as/different

> than the transition from basic facilitation to developmental

> facilitation a la Schwarz.  There seems to be a connection in

> the words, but I've never worked in either space so I might

> be missing some important differences.

 

Roger Schwarz addresses this directly, though briefly, in the new

edition of his book.  Pages 56-59 address "The Facilitator as

Mediator" and discuss the distinctions between these two roles. 

In this section he says, "In general, mediation is more similar

to basic facilitation than to developmental facilitation." 

However, he also notes "...that at least one approach to

mediation (by Bush and Folger, 1994) also focuses on transforming

relationships among participants and the participants

themselves."

 

Both basic facilitation and "traditional" or "directive"

mediation are focused on solving the problem (which mediators

would refer to as "reaching a settlement").  Developmental

facilitation or "transformative" mediation focus on improving the

ability of the participants (mediators would say "parties") to

work together effectively in the future.

 

The US Post Office adopted transformative mediation as the method

to be used in its Resolve Employment Disputes REach Equitable

Solutions Swiftly (REDRESS) Program, its workplace conflict

resolution program.  I was trained as a REDRESS mediator along

with 20 or so other people, all of whom came from "traditional"

mediation backgrounds.  Most of them found it quite challenging

to shift to the "transformative" mediation approach, while for

me, coming from a group facilitation background, it was no change

at all.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 10:01:47 -0400

From: Busby Ann <Busby.Ann@pbgc.gov>

 

Elizabeth said, >I just delivered a presentation on Conflict in the

Workplace to a business community here in Kentucky.  In it, I positioned

facilitation and

collaborative decision-making processes as ways to help ensure that conflict

(which is inevitable) does not become destructive. If one views conflict as

an outgrowth of diversity, then it is inevitable.  It's how one handles the

diversity that drives whether difference becomes an engine for creativity or

something destructive in an organization. Daniel Dana wrote a really

practical book on Conflict in the workplace which is geared toward

non-practioners so very easy to understand/explain concepts to others.  He

talked about conflict as having four elements: interdependency in the

relationship, feelings of anger and blame toward the other person for it,

and behavior that causes a problem.  One way to make the transition from

facilitation into conflict resolution might be to introduce this whole

concept of emotion...  The skills that we use in facilitation are mostly the

same as we use in conflict resolution but the whole element of emotion (how

we express it and how others react to how we express it) can make

discussions around issues/ needs much more difficult.   Then perhaps talk to

how one deals with anger or withdrawal in other people so that both parties

can get to the issues at hand rather than the issues getting lost in all the

emotion and subsequent reactions.<

 

 

I like the way you worded this.  I have been pondering Alan Kitty's

statement that conflict resolution is a subset of facilitation.  I see where

he's coming from in that when you view a facilitator as a problem solver,

the conflict resolution negotiator (CRN) who is called into to a dispute is

facilitating a communications problem-guiding 2 people (or more) to a

reasonable agreement.  The skills used are very different, and you,

Elizabeth, hit the nail on the head when you talked about this expert

dealing with emotions.  The CRN may not have had "facilitation" skills per

se, but has had extensive training and experience in resolving highly

charged emotional situations.

 

These already exist when the CRN is called in. The facilitator of a group

needs to have some knowledge of these skills in order to try to prevent this

situation from occurring, but would need the same skills/competencies as the

CRN to continue if a situation should erupt.  A CRN is a facilitator, but

not all facilitators are CRNs.  Agreed?

 

Elizabeth-I'm with you, learning a lot and lots to think about!  Ann

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 10:00:42 -0500

From: Gerry Sexton <gsexton@GROWTHWORKSINC.COM>

 

Ned Wrote:

 

>I would like to hear some thoughts on how the transition from facilitation

>to conflict resolution is the same as/different than the transition from

>basic facilitation to developmental facilitation a la Schwarz.  There seems

>to be a connection in the words, but I've never worked in either space so I

>might be missing some important differences.

 

I see conflict resolution as a derivative of facilitation...the primary

difference being the added skills and ability to facilitate the greater

amplitude of emotions and polarity of opinions typically involved in

conflict resolution. Now, if I intend to help the group learn the

skills/behaviors of managing their conflicts (now and into the future)

independent of a facilitator...then I move into developmental facilitation

(ala Schwarz)...Others?

 

Gerry Sexton

GrowthWorks, Inc.

Toll Free: 800-832-5385

GrowthWorks Office: 763-420-5685

Cell Phone: 612-554-8976

E-mail: gsexton@growthworksinc.com

Website: www.growthworksinc.com

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 12:43:23 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 8:07, Ned Ruete wrote:

 

> Elizabeth wrote:

>

> > The skills that we use in facilitation are

> > mostly the same as we use in conflict resolution

> > but the whole element of emotion (how we express

> > it and how others react to how we express it) can

> > make discussions around issues/ needs much more difficult.

>

> I would like to hear some thoughts on how the transition from facilitation

> to conflict resolution is the same as/different than the transition from

> basic facilitation to developmental facilitation a la Schwarz.  There

> seems to be a connection in the words, but I've never worked in either

> space so I might be missing some important differences.

 

That only makes sense to me if conflict resolution is driven by a

goal, while facilitation is driven by a commitment to process.

 

It's possible I see this differently than some since I'm much more

involved in conflict issues per se than facilitation.

 

The point I'm struggling with is that I suspect some people are

assuming that conflict resolution is a facilitated process. Which, of

course, it can be. But it's not necessary the only way to come at it

(it also depends on one's meaning for conflict resolution).

 

I imagine that when one is a facilitator one uses that to frame other

activities and goals, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I

imagine that almost any set of goals is amenable to facilitation but

that doesn't mean that the EQUAL facilitation.

 

Make sense?

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 11:40:10 -0700

From: Harriet Whitman Lee <hwlee@IGC.ORG>

 

Hi all -

 

I don't think of Facilitation *versus* conflict resolution.

 

I think facilitation can go quite awry if the facilitator is not

prepared and able to help the group do what the group needs to do

about any given conflict internal or external, explicit or implicit,

surfaced or beneath the surface. I think the facilitator can, in a

lot of instances, help the group develop ways to deal with internal

and outside conflict

 

I think of conflict to be utlized rather than prevented, managed or

resolved.  I think of it as a necessary step (like necessary losses)

to a new and better level of functioning.. Facilitation can make a

huge difference in how the group operates with/through conflict.  As

pointed out before, conflict can take a very destructive form, so the

challenge for the facilitator, in my opinion, is how to help the

group get through the pain part to the ah hah and ahhhh part with the

group doing the work. (is that developmental?  transformative?)

 

yours for creative and constructive conflict utilization

 

h.

 

About dealing with conflict with an outside entity:  we did work with

a group once that identified what group membersy called a "WAaaaah!

(WA), because a WA makes you go  "WAaaaah!.  WA stands for a "Work

Around"  meaning a person or situation that calls for working around

him/her/it to get the project done.  The group did a great job of

identifying what it could not do and what it could do and agreed on a

series of strategies to pursue.

h.

--

harriet

Harriet Whitman Lee

Working in Concert

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 14:21:20 -0500

From: "Vukovic, David (HCJPD)" <David_Vukovic@HCJPD.CO.HARRIS.TX.US>

 

To all:

 

My own study and training started with mediation. It then moved into

emotional issues and family therapy issues. After three years of study and

training into surfacing emotional issues in conflict, I discovered the world

of facilitation. I have found the tools that are used in mediation,

facilitation, family therapy, individual psychology, group psychology

disciplines are all very similar with a few differences in completion focus

in each case.

 

If we were to enumerate the factors in the above disciplines we would find

things like 'being heard', 'respected', 'appreciated' are all expected.

When we ask each discipline what is there final goal, the focus can be

different.

Mediation       a livable decision

Facilitation    a new future story

Family therapy  live with each other

Individual psyc self realization

Group psyc      working harmony

 

I know that these are all factors that all disciplines would like see in

their interventions, however at the end of the day I feel the different

disciplines are focused on different targets.

 

What do others think?  ( © Ned Ruete 2002)

 

 

All the best

David*Vukovic

Houston Texas

 

People will forget what you said,

people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.

-- Maya Angelou

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 15:21:22 -0400

From: Busby Ann <Busby.Ann@PBGC.GOV>

 

Cute story, Harriet, WA!  I'll remember that one.  I don't think any of us

are thinking of us/them kind of "vs" but I do see them as differing.  I've

meet some conflict management negotiaters who are highly specialized & I

wouldn't want to be called in to do what they do.  I think it's helpful for

people who facilitate groups to be aware of some conflict managment

techniques to help the group reach their goal, but the specialists go way

beyond what a facilitator would normally need to know.

 

Robert's point, "...conflict resolution is driven by a goal, while

facilitation is driven by a commitment to process" makes sense to me.  There

is a distinction.  A negotiator can be a facilitator, but a facilitator is

not necessarily a negotiator.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 15:26:19 -0400

From: "Wallace, Jayne" <JWallace@AARP.ORG>

 

I especially appreciate that conflict management language.  I often think

that there are some conflicts that can't be resolved, but the content of the

conflict can often be turned into a positive force.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 15:20:18 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 15:26, Wallace, Jayne wrote:

 

> Robert's point, "...conflict resolution is driven by a goal, while

> facilitation is driven by a commitment to process" makes sense to me.

> There is a distinction.  A negotiator can be a facilitator, but a

> facilitator is not necessarily a negotiator.

 

I'd probably alter that just a bit to say that a negotiator might use a

facilitative process, but not necessarily.

 

Just to add, I make a differentiation between conflict resolution and

conflict management, in terms of the goals they are set to achieve.

Again, there can be overlap, but I find it helpful to maintain an

awareness of differences.

 

Conflict resolution has as it's goal the elimination of the conflict. In

other words the problem gets resolved. HOW it gets resolved is

subservient to the goal. Maybe through facilitation. Maybe through

fiat.

 

Conflict management is different. It has as it's goal the

minimization of negative effects of conflict, and the enhancement of

positive outcomes. It is essentially a problem solving process. So,

for example, it may be that in a particular situation, the best way to

minimize negative effects is actually to ignore the conflict. Most of

you are probably familiar with the different methods uses going

from ignoring through to collaboration. Again, facilitation may be a

part of the process, but it may not.

 

Conflict prevention is less used. I haven't find too many people

besides myself how use that term, so my definition (unlike the

other two) is not a "standard" one.

 

Conflict prevention refers to the prevention of unnecessary

destructive conflict that derives from issues not directly related to a

substantive conflict issue. The work I do here generally has to do

with conflict that is a result of what many people call personality

conflict, or, I think a better phrasing, which is clashes of

communication.

 

For example, you and I could be in a conflict situation over the

color of the office walls, where neither one of us really cares, but

what we are really conflicted about is the WAY I ordered you to

paint the walls puce.

 

Hence, the notion that one can work to prevent certain kinds of

conflict that will not really push us to a better place.

 

Conflict avoidance is the general tendency for some people and

organizations to sweep any and all conflict under the rug, whether

it needs to be pursued or not, and regardless of the outcomes.

 

The general point in making these distinctions is to help people

think more intentionally about how a very specific conflict situation

should be addressed.

 

Sometimes there's no point in addressing it. Sometimes, the best

approach is for someone to simply make a power based decision.

Sometimes the best approach is a facilitated process.

 

Some of the things that can be considered in this decision making

process include type and permancy of the relationship, degree of

inter-dependence of the parties, cost of the conflict, degree of

emotionality attached to the conflict, and so on.

 

...anyway that's how I come at it. I'm sure there are alternative

ways to define these things that can work just as well. I DO think

that we need some coherent system for looking at conflict, which

is where these definitions come into play. For me, the above

definitions work as a kind of intellectual system for understanding

conflict that works for me.

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 17:02:56 -0400

From: Lisa Singh <lisa@dnaco.net>

 

I think Sandor has said what I have been trying to formulate in my mind.  I

come from a mediation background into facilitation.  In fact, I am still new

to the broader aspects of facilitation.

 

Initially I was trained in a problem-solving methods of mediation.  This is

a somewhat directive process which leads participants to a negotiated

settlement.  In transformative mediation, however, the participants are

supported in their own decision making process.  This is much more similar

to facilitation.

 

I first approached facilitation through introducing family group decision

making models.  This approach to conflict leads community, family and others

through a facilitated discussion of a problem that has lead to 1. crime or

2. family disputes.  The same process has been redesigned from its origins

for use in business as a conferencing technique.  It helps participants

define the problem that is causing conflict within the organization and

supports them in the decisions they wish to make to address these problems.

 

Both facilitation and conflict resolution are broad topics.  Both use

varying models.  Facilitation can be a method used in conflict resolution,

but is not the only process.  Conversely, facilitation is used in broader

contexts and for broader purposes.

 

So, if I could draw two circles -- I would have those circles intersect.

One would be facilitation -- the other would represent conflict resolution.

This to me would be the way I define the two.  They intersect and may be

dependent on -- but are also independent of one another.

 

This is the first time I have posted to the list.  I have been very happy

with the depth and support everyone provides.  Thank you so much for all of

the conversation.

 

Incidently, I think you were only up to 9 in the count a while back.

 

Lisa Singh

A New Day: Center for Peace and Community

Dayton, Ohio

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 17:11:51 -0400

From: WayneNelson <wnelson@ICACAN.CA>

 

Facilitation IS how it is practiced.  Conflict resolution IS how people do

it.  There is no single IS for any of these things.  There are about a

gazillion.

 

Some people adopt a very facilitative approach to resolving conflict,

mediating disputes and negotiating disagreements.  That approach is

probably the equivalent of "developmental facilitation."  They engage

people in creating the atmosphere and the process as well as focusing on

the content.

 

Some people take a more consultative approach to these things. Some take a

legalistic approach to them.  Some take a therapeutic approach to

them.  Some take an artistic / expressionistic depth conversational

approach.  Most people probably use a multi-modal approach.

 

I can't see that there is any one thing called conflict resolution any more

than there is one thing called facilitation.

 

Wayne

******************

Wayne Nelson - ICA Associates

416-691-2316

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 15:35:37 -0700

From: Harriet Whitman Lee <hwlee@IGC.ORG>

 

thank you Wayne.

h.

=======

snippets from Wayne's post:

 

There is no single IS for any of these things.  There are about a

gazillion.

 

Some people adopt a very facilitative approach to resolving conflict,

mediating disputes and negotiating disagreements.

 

Some people take a more consultative approach to these things. Some take a

legalistic approach to them.  Some take a therapeutic approach to

them.  Some take an artistic / expressionistic depth conversational

approach.  Most people probably use a multi-modal approach.

 

I can't see that there is any one thing called conflict resolution any more

than there is one thing called facilitation.

 

--

harriet

Harriet Whitman Lee

Working in Concert

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 17:55:14 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 17:11, WayneNelson wrote:

 

> Facilitation IS how it is practiced.  Conflict resolution IS how people do

> it.  There is no single IS for any of these things.  There are about a

> gazillion.

 

I'm trying to get my head around this. It seems to me that this

could apply to anything, training, management, consulting, etc.

What does this mean for the use of definitions?

 

My take on this stuff is that if we have words, they have to have

some meaning besides what "IS". Otherwise we would have

difficulty communicating about the thing.

 

The idea behind a term or words is that the term refers to

something that has a number of things in common. A concept if

you will.

 

So, with something simple, like the word dog, the word dog refers

to something that has common characterstics and excludes things

that lack that characteristic.

 

To my understanding, facilitation isn't siimply "how it is practiced"

but is a process that has certain things that characterize it.

 

The same with conflict issues. This doesn't mean you can't have

diverse techniques and so on, clearly, but it does mean that the

word has to have some meaning, perhaps some "IS".

 

> I can't see that there is any one thing called conflict resolution any

> more than there is one thing called facilitation.

 

By the same logic, I guess I could say there's no "one thing" called

an automobile, or the legal system, or ?

 

Is that what you are saying, Wayne?

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 16:31:44 -0700

From: Harriet Whitman Lee <hwlee@IGC.ORG>

 

Robert Bacal says

 

>By the same logic, I guess I could say there's no "one thing" called

>an automobile, or the legal system, or ?

 

What I heard and liked in what Wayne said is that terms like

automobile, legal system, conflict resolution, mediation,

facilitation and therapy, etc. mean wildly different things to

different people.  Differences often have to do with background,

training, experience and personality style preferences.  So, to me,

it is very worthwhile to get clear about the range of perceptions and

expectations attached to terms used.

 

As Ned sez:  What do others think?

 

h.

 

--

harriet

Harriet Whitman Lee

Working in Concert

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 19:03:15 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 16:31, Harriet Whitman Lee wrote:

 

> Robert Bacal says

>

> >By the same logic, I guess I could say there's no "one thing" called an

> >automobile, or the legal system, or ?

>

> What I heard and liked in what Wayne said is that terms like

> automobile, legal system, conflict resolution, mediation,

> facilitation and therapy, etc. mean wildly different things to

> different people.  Differences often have to do with background,

> training, experience and personality style preferences.  So, to me,

> it is very worthwhile to get clear about the range of perceptions and

> expectations attached to terms used.

 

I'm sure they have different connotative meanings, and often

differing denotative meanings.

 

I guess I have some discomfort around the idea that since

something can mean different things to different people, that we

shouldn't work towards definitions that actually mean something.

 

From reading this list, for example, I get the impression that

facilitators here have a good grasp of what differentiates facilitating

from, let's say training. How do we profit from saying that training

and facilitating are what "is", except to move to a situation where

whatever we label something is what it is.

 

That facilitation can be done in numerous ways, and the same for

training, doesn't negate the distinction between the two. If I call my

training, facilitation, or vice-versa, and disregard the core

differences, I don't know what we've gained.

 

When I talk about training, or I talk about facilitation here, I have

little doubt that people know I'm talking about two differing things.

Overlaps may occur, but we know they are different things at their

core.

 

It seems to me that this kind of linguistic nihilism of "isness" is a

real concern, particularly in terms of explaining what we do and

teaching people in the field what facilitating means.

 

...not to mention how not understanding the core elements of

facilitation may affect the actual practice of it.

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 19:08:15 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@WORK911.COM>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 17:21, Rosa Zubizarreta wrote:

 

> Lisa, thank you for your post... I like the "overlapping circles" image.

>

> As i was reading this various posts in the thread, i was feeling

> strongly that, while there are logical ways in which either

> facilitation or conflict resolution could be defined as a "subset" of the

> other, in practice each is broader than that... and then i read your post

> and grinned!

 

So, if they aren't the same thing, then we should be able to define

what they share and what distinguishes them from each other.

Which is way I think we are confusing process and goals here.

 

Commitment to facilitation is commitment to a set of core values

and core processes.

 

Entering into conflict management or resolution is a commitment to

achieve specific goals.

 

What we are trying to do here is ignore the process/outcomes

distinction, which seems to me a bad thing.

 

Actually, facilitation in and of itself is different from many other

things like training, organizational development, etc, in that it is a

process which can be used to achieve a variety of outcomes,

where the others are more outcome defined.

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 17:21:03 -0700

From: Rosa Zubizarreta <rosalegria@IGC.ORG>

 

Lisa wrote:

 

>Both facilitation and conflict resolution are broad topics.  Both use

>varying models.  Facilitation can be a method used in conflict resolution,

>but is not the only process.  Conversely, facilitation is used in broader

>contexts and for broader purposes.

>

>So, if I could draw two circles -- I would have those circles intersect.

>One would be facilitation -- the other would represent conflict resolution.

>This to me would be the way I define the two.  They intersect and may be

>dependent on -- but are also independent of one another.

 

 

Lisa, thank you for your post... I like the "overlapping circles" image.

 

As i was reading this various posts in the thread, i was feeling

strongly that, while there are logical ways in which either

facilitation or conflict resolution could be defined as a "subset" of

the other, in practice each is broader than that... and then i read

your post and grinned!

 

(and, as Wayne said, there are a gazillion ways to do each one...

and, at the same time, there does seem to be some general clusters of

patterns within each; i found all of the distinctions various folks

have offered quite helpful.)

 

with all best wishes,

 

Rosa

*************************

Rosa Zubizarreta, M.A.

Facilitating Creative Collaboration:

Process Consulting * Conflict Transformation * Human Systems Redesign

Phone: 707-824-8876   E-mail: rosalegria@igc.org

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 20:28:06 -0400

From: WayneNelson <wnelson@icacan.ca>

 

At 05:55 PM 10/18/02 -0500, Robert Bacal wrote:

 

>By the same logic, I guess I could say there's no "one thing" called

>an automobile, or the legal system, or ?

>

>Is that what you are saying, Wayne?

 

No, it is not.

 

I think that trying to reduce these highly complex disciplines to a single

"definition" is not the direction to take.  I think that the most

productive discussions will be about how we practice them.

 

Wayne

******************

Wayne Nelson - ICA Associates

416-691-2316

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 17:51:51 -0700

From: Harriet Whitman Lee <hwlee@IGC.ORG>

 

Robert Bacal writes:

 

>I'm sure they have different connotative meanings, and often

>differing denotative meanings.

 

>I guess I have some discomfort around the idea that since

>something can mean different things to different people, that we

>shouldn't work towards definitions that actually mean something.

 

Since its true that there will be different meanings to different

people it works better for me to be careful about exploring with

others what they mean by their terms.  For me, being sure I know what

a term means without that exploration has gotten me into trouble

about perceptions and expectations.

 

An example would be that some trainers use a very "facilitative

approach;" they "facilitate" the learning of their "trainees."

There was a whole list serve discussion about "facilitation" and

"training," discerning the differences and identifying the overlap on

this list serve a couple of years ago.

 

If I am contracting, I believe things will turn out best for all if

we get clear about what is meant by the terms we use.  What are our

perceptions and expectations when we use a given term?  I know its

"mushy" or it seems that there isn't anything you can count on.  I

just know the ways in which I have been burned by not paying

attention to the possible pitfalls contained in this subject matter.

 

I think we are both working toward clarity in communications and need

to put together what we are saying.

h.

--

harriet

Harriet Whitman Lee

Working in Concert

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 20:05:00 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 20:28, WayneNelson wrote:

 

> No, it is not.

>

> I think that trying to reduce these highly complex disciplines to a single

> "definition" is not the direction to take.  I think that the most

> productive discussions will be about how we practice them.

 

Ok. Fair enough. what would such a productive discussion "look

like" to you?

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 18:09:53 -0700

From: Rosa Zubizarreta <rosalegria@igc.org>

 

Robert,

 

you said,

 

>Commitment to facilitation is commitment to a set of core values

>and core processes.

>

>Entering into conflict management or resolution is a commitment to

>achieve specific goals.

 

 

I think this distinction may work fairly well, as far as it goes...

and, as Sandor and others mentioned earlier, conflict transformation

is much closer to the above definition of "facilitation" than to your

description of  "conflict management or resolution". Therefore, it

would be one element that might fit into the overlapping part of the

two circles...

 

I also enjoyed your helpful distinctions between conflict resolution,

conflict management, conflict avoidance, and conflict prevention.

 

best wishes,

 

Rosa

*************************

Rosa Zubizarreta, M.A.

Facilitating Creative Collaboration:

Process Consulting * Conflict Transformation * Human Systems Redesign

Phone: 707-824-8876   E-mail: rosalegria@igc.org

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 18:21:06 +1300

From: Gabrielle <connect@ihug.co.nz>

 

A fascinating discussion.

 

It seemed to me at first,  surely it was obvious that conflict

resolution/mediation where a subset of facilitation. But through

listening to the discussion I came to realise that the form of mediation

that I practice ( community mediation, drawing on transformative and

conflict partnership) can be considered a subset of facilitation because

it is based on the same values as facilitation, including the emphasis

on process  rather than being outcome focused. But other forms of

mediation and conflict resolution don't necessarily share those basic

values.

 

I feel a bit uncomfotable with Roberts distinction:  "...conflict

resolution is driven by a goal, while

facilitation is driven by a commitment to process" .

 

For me mediation is driven by a commitment to process in just the same

way as facilitation.What distinguihes mediation and other CR processes

from facilitation is the focus - conflict. I feel much more comfortable

with the word focus rather than goal.

 

Gabrielle Panckhurst

Dunedin Community Mediation

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 11:05:42 -0400

From: WayneNelson <wnelson@ICACAN.CA>

 

At 08:05 PM 10/18/02 -0500, Robert Bacal wrote:

>Ok. Fair enough. what would such a productive discussion "look

>like" to you?

 

The conversations on this list about the ways we practice are far more

interesting than those about definitions.  I think the question in this

area is probably something like:

 

- "What kinds of methods and approaches do you use when you are trying to

enable people to resolve conflict?"

- " How do those methods and approaches relate to facilitation methods and

approaches?"

 

I think we gaining a fuller understanding of these things when we expand

them than we do when we try to reduce them. At least, that's my experience.

The defining comes at the end rather than the beginning.

 

Wayne

******************

Wayne Nelson - ICA Associates

416-691-2316

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 11:06:47 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@WORK911.COM>

 

On 19 Oct 02, at 11:05, WayneNelson wrote:

 

 

> The conversations on this list about the ways we practice are far more

> interesting than those about definitions.  I think the question in this

> area is probably something like:

 

I think you are probably right.

>

 

> I think we gaining a fuller understanding of these things when we expand

> them than we do when we try to reduce them. At least, that's my

> experience. The defining comes at the end rather than the beginning.

 

I don't agree with you, but that's fine, since I can see what you are

saying about what's more interesting for you.

 

Personally, and perhaps I am in the minority here, it helps me

clarify my thinking on techniques to understand the differences in

meaning. I think that helps me in practice to shift gears more

consciously from one approach to another, and to understand when

I'm using one set of values and beliefs as opposed to another.

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 11:37:17 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@WORK911.COM>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 17:51, Harriet Whitman Lee wrote:

 

 

> If I am contracting, I believe things will turn out best for all if

> we get clear about what is meant by the terms we use.  What are our

> perceptions and expectations when we use a given term?  I know its

> "mushy" or it seems that there isn't anything you can count on.  I

> just know the ways in which I have been burned by not paying

> attention to the possible pitfalls contained in this subject matter.

 

Yes. A big ABSOLUTELY. I can't speak for others but I know I've

been in situations where that lack of clarity derailed a process. In

those situations, I wasn't always in the lead role, and didn't get a

chance to clarify those expectations, values and roles, but the

bottom line it is still my responsibility.

 

If only because "it hurts so bad" when things get derailed.

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 11:47:03 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@WORK911.COM>

 

On 19 Oct 02, at 18:21, Gabrielle wrote:

 

 

> I feel a bit uncomfotable with Roberts distinction:  "...conflict

> resolution is driven by a goal, while

> facilitation is driven by a commitment to process" .

 

I think the value in these discussions is often in the self-clarification

process. I'm probably also uncomfortable with it.

>

> For me mediation is driven by a commitment to process in just the same way

> as facilitation.What distinguihes mediation and other CR processes from

> facilitation is the focus - conflict. I feel much more comfortable with

> the word focus rather than goal.

 

I agree. LIke you, I see mediation as much closer to facilitation

because it is indeed based on a set of values and beliefs about

how best to deal with a situation.

 

But there's no doubt its target is conflict resolution.

 

Perhaps what I try and do with definitions is to come up with

working definitions that, when taken together, help me work with

clients and help other people. A working definition, to me, is

something useful, but not necessarily definitive.

 

I sometimes use the phrase "useful fiction" to refer to things that

are useful but not necessarily universally accurate or "true".

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 15:32:47 -0400

From: Ned Ruete <nruete@CSC.COM>

 

Robert wrote:

 

> I sometimes use the phrase "useful fiction" to

> refer to things that are useful but not

> necessarily universally accurate or "true".

 

You mean things like myths?

 

See, all the threads really are just one....     ;-)

 

Ned

 

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 13:51:47 -0700

From: Rosa Zubizarreta <rosalegria@IGC.ORG>

 

Dear Robert,

 

> > I feel a bit uncomfotable with Roberts distinction:  "...conflict

> > resolution is driven by a goal, while

> > facilitation is driven by a commitment to process" .

>

>I think the value in these discussions is often in the self-clarification

>process. I'm probably also uncomfortable with it.

> >

 

I appreciate your emphasis on the "process" of clarification, as well

as your perspective on working definitions as "useful fictions"...

 

At the risk of exceeding some folk's tolerance for

nitpicking...(remember, just hit delete!) i do want to offer the

following, for clarity's sake...

 

I may be wrong on this, but as far as i understand it, there is

nothing in set theory that prevents us from comparing "apples and

oranges"... for example, i could create a Venn diagram where one

circle is "ways to get over a cold"  and another is "things that grow

on trees"... and, there would still be a meaningful intersection of

the two, even if the two categories themselves are not the same

"kind" of thing...

 

As to my other point... i was only mentioning an experiential fact

that sometimes, whenever we are metaphorically standing "inside" one

of the circles, it can sometimes happen that the only part of the

other circle that we "see" is the one that lies within the

intersection of the two circles...

 

So, for example, as a facilitator, i might view the elementary

conflict resolution skills that i possess as a "subset" of my larger

set of facilitation skills... (leaving aside for the moment the rest

of the CR circle!)

 

And vice versa; as someone who has written extensively about CR, you

correctly emphasize that facilitation is only ONE of the many ways to

get there (so, in THAT sense, and in that sense only, a subset...)

 

One way to visually represent this might be to have the same two

intersecting circles... and, if i am "inside" one of them, the other

would appear to be made up of a dotted line instead of a solid one

(i.e. less visible) EXCEPT for the part that lies within the

intersection.

 

And, i do agree with Wayne that discussions of practice are often

more interesting to many. Glad to know that there's room for all of

us here...

 

best wishes,

 

Rosa

*************************

Rosa Zubizarreta, M.A.

Facilitating Creative Collaboration:

Process Consulting * Conflict Transformation * Human Systems Redesign

Phone: 707-824-8876   E-mail: rosalegria@igc.org

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 19:18:16 -0700

From: Rosa Zubizarreta <rosalegria@IGC.ORG>

 

i've made an attempt to weave together some of the contributions to

this thread...

 

first, an overall perspective on conflict... Wayne wrote:

 

>Of course there will always be conflict. In a healthy atmosphere, conflict

>is part of the creative, collaborative process. A variety of perspectives

>can lead to a breakthrough in understanding rather than a clash.

>

>Without writing a treatise, that's how I think facilitation plays a role in

>"preventing" conflict.

 

Margo was one of the first to mention the "overlap":

 

>These two roles (facilitator and conflict resolution specialist) have a lot

>of overlapping skills, such as good listening, ability to include all

>parties, etc.

 

This foreshadows Lisa's later mention of "overlapping circles"....

 

****

 

On reviewing the earlier posts, i was struck by how, whenever there

are "overlapping circles," each circle (or at least the overlapping

portion of it) could be seen a "subset" of the other...

 

especially if we take a perspective that overlooks the rest of the

other circle, either unintentionally, or else for the purpose of

simplification.. ( note: some degree of simplification is often

useful in model-making! :-)

 

for example, on conflict resolution as a subset of facilitation, Alan

Kitty wrote:

 

  Conflict resolution is a subset of facilitation. It may or may not be an

> issue in any given facilitation; It may develop during a facilitation; or

> it may exist in an undiscovered state until the process of facilitation

> brings it out. The facilitator may become a mediator in such an instance.

 

Robert disagreed, pointing out the distinction between facilitation

(process-based) and CR (goal set). However, a question for Robert: if

we were to modify Alan's statement above to focus on SKILLS rather

than FIELDS, would it work for you to say that

 

basic conflict resolution SKILLS can be seen as a subset of

facilitation SKILLS?

 

*******

 

with regard to facilitation (a tool) being a subset of the available

tools for conflict resolution (goal), Robert described this in the

following passage:

 

"Conflict resolution is not really a process but a goal set, for

which facilitation may be used as a tool to reach that goal... as a

goal set, conflict resolution can be achieved through a number of

ways, including straight out arguing, and other techniques that have

nothing to do with a third party."

 

Ned offered another perspective on this... going beyond viewing

facilitation skills as a subset of the CR toolbox, to defining the

very purpose of facilitation in terms of CR:

 

>There is a school of thought that says all facilitation is conflict

>resolution.  If there is not conflict of ideas, you don't need a meeting.

>If there aren't different people with different perspectives, issues,

>concerns, and interests, then you only need one person to make the decision

>or plot the course.  The action research process, the political process,

>which we attempt to facilitate is one of finding the common position that

>allows people with conflicting ideas to work together.

 

he then described CR (the rest of that circle?) as the more

specialized set of skills needed when "ideas in conflict" have

escalated to personal confrontation...

 

********

 

if we look at the definitions that have been offered, it can also

help clarify the way in which each of these circles can be (for

certain purposes) defined in terms of the other...

 

For example, Alan defines facilitation "a process for defining and

reaching goals"... which, if we add values into the mix, begins to

approximate Robert's "a commitment to a set of core values and core

processes" -- especially if we come from a pragmatic perspective

where we see values and processes not occurring in a vacuum, but

instead as always being 'in relation to' SOME goal or other...

 

In turn, Robert's definition of conflict management or resolution is

"a commitment to achieve SPECIFIC goals" (emphasis added.)

 

Therefore, if our focus is on PROCESS, CR could be seen as a subset

of facilitation since it relates to accomplishing ONE set of specific

goals, within the larger set of all possible goals that facilitation

could help to achieve...

 

while, if our focus is on achieving the GOALS of conflict resolution,

then facilitation could be seen as a subset of CR, since facilitation

processes can be ONE way to achieve that goal, as Robert pointed out

so clearly...

 

***

 

and, while both of the above perspectives are useful, i still think

that Lisa framed the subject very clearly when she said,

 

>Both facilitation and conflict resolution are broad topics.  Both use

>varying models.  Facilitation can be a method used in conflict resolution,

>but is not the only process.  Conversely, facilitation is used in broader

>contexts and for broader purposes.

>

>So, if I could draw two circles -- I would have those circles intersect.

>One would be facilitation -- the other would represent conflict resolution.

>This to me would be the way I define the two.  They intersect and may be

>dependent on -- but are also independent of one another.

 

 

well, that's (more than) enough for now!

 

best wishes,

 

Rosa

*************************

Rosa Zubizarreta, M.A.

Facilitating Creative Collaboration:

Process Consulting * Conflict Transformation * Human Systems Redesign

Phone: 707-824-8876   E-mail: rosalegria@igc.org

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 21:26:00 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 19:18, Rosa Zubizarreta wrote:

 

 

> Robert disagreed, pointing out the distinction between facilitation

> (process-based) and CR (goal set). However, a question for Robert: if we

> were to modify Alan's statement above to focus on SKILLS rather than

> FIELDS, would it work for you to say that

>

> basic conflict resolution SKILLS can be seen as a subset of

> facilitation SKILLS?

 

I'm not sure. I have to admit to not feeling like I have a grasp of this

topic to the extent I would like. My problem is I can't divorce the

skills from the values. Facilitation, unlike a lot of other fields,

seems to me to have a core set of values, many of which have

been talked up to great benefit in this forum.

 

So, the question I would have to answer first is:

 

Is it possible to enter into a conflict resolution role where we would

violate facilitation principles, but STILL be effective in conflict

resolution?

 

If the answer is no, that conflict resolution process is restricted

ONLY to the same values and skills used in facilitation, them my

answer would be yes.

 

If the answer is yes, which I believe it is, then conflict resolution

may INCLUDE facilitation skills, but not be confined to facilitation

skills. Facilitation skills may be one of a number of conflict

resolution practices. I can envision, for example, the use of various

forms of manipulation and power to resolve a conflict, that would

make any true facilitator wince.

 

> Ned offered another perspective on this... going beyond viewing

> facilitation skills as a subset of the CR toolbox, to defining the

> very purpose of facilitation in terms of CR:

>

> >There is a school of thought that says all facilitation is conflict

> >resolution.

 

Brief aside: If I try to adopt what I think is implicit or underlying this

thinking, yes, it makes sense. It kinda flows out of the meaning of

conflict.

 

> In turn, Robert's definition of conflict management or resolution is

> "a commitment to achieve SPECIFIC goals" (emphasis added.)

>

> Therefore, if our focus is on PROCESS, CR could be seen as a subset

> of facilitation since it relates to accomplishing ONE set of specific

> goals, within the larger set of all possible goals that facilitation could

> help to achieve...

 

This is where I get stuck. I don't see the two as the same type of

thing. One is not a subset of the other. Let me see if I can clarify

this at least for myself.

 

Let's take a process (walking). Let's take a destination (getting

downtown).

 

Is one a subset of the other? No. They are two different levels of

analysis. I may walk downtown. I may drive downtown. I may also

be commited to walking independent of the outcome and walk for

other reasons.

 

But, they aren't the same kind of thing. I will pick walking when I

have a goal that I feel is appropriate for walking, and not pick it

when it isn't (let's say walking to Texas). Walking is the means.

Getting to the destination is the end. I can get to the destination

using a variety of different methods.

 

> while, if our focus is on achieving the GOALS of conflict resolution, then

> facilitation could be seen as a subset of CR, since facilitation processes

> can be ONE way to achieve that goal, as Robert pointed out so clearly...

 

How about this? Faciliation is one MEANS of working towards

conflict resolution, but not the only means.

 

Also: In the facilitation process, there is often a need to address

conflict using facilitative methods.

 

However, when IN a facilitative process, and having to address

certain conflicts, in that context, the ONLY means that fits that is

consistent with facilitative values is to use the facilitative process.

 

So, in that sense, when one is facilitating, hits a conflict barrier,

then facilitates THROUGH it, then they are, for all practical

purposes one and the same thing.

 

Because you can't use a different form of conflict resolution (eg.

telling someone he's fired because he disagrees, which is a way of

resolving a conflict, albeit not a pleasant way)

 

> ***

> and, while both of the above perspectives are useful, i still think

> that Lisa framed the subject very clearly when she said,

>

> >Both facilitation and conflict resolution are broad topics.  Both use

> >varying models.  Facilitation can be a method used in conflict

> >resolution, but is not the only process.  Conversely, facilitation is

> >used in broader contexts and for broader purposes.

 

Yes. Lisa probably framed this in an excellent and concise way. I

like it.

 

> >So, if I could draw two circles -- I would have those circles intersect.

> >One would be facilitation -- the other would represent conflict

> >resolution. This to me would be the way I define the two.  They intersect

> >and may be dependent on -- but are also independent of one another.

 

Yes. To carry on the analogy of set theory, that means neither is a

subset. A subset is defined as a circle completely contained by

another circle.

 

Overlapping, yes. Subset, no.

 

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 23:41:03 -0400

From: Lisa Singh <lisa@DNACO.NET>

 

Robert Bacall said:

 

"I'm not sure. I have to admit to not feeling like I have a grasp of this

topic to the extent I would like. My problem is I can't divorce the

skills from the values. Facilitation, unlike a lot of other fields,

seems to me to have a core set of values, many of which have

been talked up to great benefit in this forum.

 

So, the question I would have to answer first is:

 

Is it possible to enter into a conflict resolution role where we would

violate facilitation principles, but STILL be effective in conflict

resolution?"

 

 

 

As I think about Conflict Resolution Techniques, I can think of differing

values and assumptions for each model used.  The goals as well differ

depending on the model.

 

For example:

 

Arbitration:

        Values:                 Assumptions:                                            Goals:

          Neutral party           People need help resolving conflict             Determine a fair

settlement

 

 

Problem Solving Model in Mediation:

        Values:                 Assumptions:                                            Goals:

          Negotiation             People need help resolving conflict             Resolution of

interpersonal conflict

          Neutrality              People need help identifying issues             Intersection of

interests

          Respect for process     People need process to resolve conflict

 

 

Transformative Method of Mediation:

        Values:                 Assumptions:                                            Goals:

          Empowerment             People can solve their own conflicts            Transforming

individuals through conflict

          Recognition             People are capable of making decisions                  Empower decision

making of parties

                                                                                                          Respect decisions of individuals in conflict

 

Family Group Decison Making/Community Conferencing:

        Values:                 Assumptions:                                            Goals:

          Parties decisions       With right information, parties can             Empower

parties towards their own process                                             determine their own solution to

Encourage a planning process to meet

                                                behaviors that cause conflict                         the needs of parties to

encourage

                                                                                                                change in behaviors/practices

 

Peacemaking Circles:

        Values:                 Assumptions:                                            Goals:

          Community                       All are equal in the process                    Encourage community around

an event

          Respect                         People need social interaction                          Provide social interaction

and support

                                                                                                                to solve conflict in communities

          Social contracts        People have well defined social                         Provide a forum

for discussion of community

                                                responsibilities                                                processes and culture to enhance

                                                                                                                social interactions within communities

 

 

As pointed out previously confict resolution is not only these processes.

These are simply models used based on differing values, assumptions and

goals.  But, conflict resolution includes the improvement of communication

and social interaction, pvoerty reduction, assessment of organization or

community, removal of barriers to peaceful coexistance, and much much more.

 

i can't speak as well to processes and differing models used in

facilitation.  I am still in the process of learning.  But, I think we have

simplified the topic a bit.

 

Also, the above are just my thoughts.  I am sure with more careful

literature review I may find places where I could have better defined the

values, assumptions and goals.

 

Anyway, I really would like to talk about values and assumptions in both

facilitation and conflict resolution because I think they are extremely

important to how we choose to work within both fields.

 

/lisa

 

Lisa Singh

A New Day: Center For Peace and Community

Dayton, Ohio

Phone:  937-320-1108

 

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 23:34:09 -0500

From: Robert Bacal <ceo@work911.com>

 

That's a great list. It came out a bit garbled at this end. I'll have to

see if I can fix the formating so I can save it.

 

On 18 Oct 02, at 23:41, Lisa Singh wrote:

 

 

> As pointed out previously confict resolution is not only these processes.

> These are simply models used based on differing values, assumptions and

> goals.  But, conflict resolution includes the improvement of communication

> and social interaction, pvoerty reduction, assessment of organization or

> community, removal of barriers to peaceful coexistance, and much much

> more.

 

OK. So long as we could agree that while it CAN include the

above, it may not necessarily include any of them being present to

achieve the purpose of resolving conflict. (but I'm using a

particularly narrow definition of conflict resolution here).

>

 

> Anyway, I really would like to talk about values and assumptions in both

> facilitation and conflict resolution because I think they are extremely

> important to how we choose to work within both fields.

 

Absolutely. If I hold a particular world view and hold related values

(let's say about human interaction and what is important), that

should certainly affect my approaches. If I don't hold true to those

values, then I can't be at all congruent.

 

I think it makes perfect sense to start with ones values and beliefs

and work to application.

 

I also think it's perfectly valid to work pragmatically, and use

whatever techniques "work" regardless of what values they

represent.

 

One of the things I admire about facilitators is that there is a

central core of values and beliefs that seems to separate them from

other fields. Mediators, too seem to hold similar beliefs. OD

practioners seem to also have core beliefs

 

Oddly enough, trainers don't seem to have a coherent and more

universal core of values and beliefs. I wonder why that is?

 

Robert Bacal

Visit the work911.com supersite at http://www.work911.com

for work related articles.

 

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 11:44:15 -0400

From: Paula Diller <pmariad@sprynet.com>

 

As both a facilitator and a mediator, I have my own take on the differences

and similarities of facitation vs. "conflict resolution" conditions,

approaches and objectives.

 

When I'm facilitating a group, I operate under the assumption that conflict

(with a small "c") exists - conflict in the sense of differing ideas,

assumptions, information, interests and positions. It just is. In that sense,

I use various process models to help a group identify and work with and

through these conflicts so they can go where they want to go.

 

If a conflict arises in the group that creates an impasse the group (or some

members of the group) cannot get past, then that becomes a Conflict with a big

"c." That's where so-called conflict resolution - let's call it mediation -

comes into play.

 

There are a number of mediation models, including facilitative,

transformative, mediation-arbitration (and vice versa),

"negotiation/settlement," etc.. I happen to subscribe to the facilitative

model. This means that it is *not* a given for *me* in my mediator role that

"entering into conflict resolution is a commitment to achieve specific goals."

[I infer 'specific goals' to mean 'resolve the conflict'.] Rather, my goal is

to create an environment that frees the *conflicted parties* to resolve their

conflict. Which to me means that mediation is process-driven and based on a

set of my core values and processes as a mediator.

 

Indeed, if as the mediator, *my* goal is to resolve the conflict, I embark on

a slippery slope that could result in an agreement that is unworkable, unjust

and/or is not committed to by one or both of the parties.

 

Paula Diller

Another Way

Missouri

 

> Commitment to facilitation is commitment to a

> set of core values

> and core processes.

>

> Entering into conflict management or resolution

> is a commitment to

> achieve specific goals.

 

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 22:45:13 +0000

From: Margaret Nichols <rmnichols@ATT.NET>

To: GRP-FACL@listserv.albany.edu

Subject: Re: [GF] Control, Chaos, and the Project Manager

 

John Brown wrote:

> That involves stuff around

> getting people to work together harmoniously using things that

> facilitators (or mediators) use although I don't often do it explicitly.

 

I'm curious -- being a mediator, but not a facilitator, how do you describe

the "things that . . . mediators . . . use?

 

Justpeace,

Peg Nichols

Coordinator, Small Claims Mediation Program

Olathe, Kansas, US

 

Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 10:05:35 -0400

From: John Brown <john.brown.ca@SYMPATICO.CA>

 

Peg Nichols wrote: "I'm curious - being a mediator, but not a

facilitator, how do you describe the "things that . . . mediators . . .

use?"

 

I wouldn't make such a sharp distinction.  I find it useful to work with

the ideal that a mediator is a facilitator; that mediation is

facilitated negotiation.

 

As an engineer and a sociologist working in international development my

specialty is managing projects that have a requirement to maximize the

participation of the stakeholders "throughout the project cycle" as we

say.  That means maximizing the local people's participation in

selecting, planning, designing, implementing and maintaining, the works

(usually there are "works.")

 

Almost every professional bureaucrat has a different understanding of

what "participation" means and how broad a mandate that is.  Their

understanding will often include people in a rigid hierarchy who think

that participation means "doing what you're told."

 

Add to that the fact that the project design almost always throws in a

significant amount of "capacity development" for the bureaucracy itself

and may add NGO-private-public sector partnership to the mix.  I think

you can see that this already provides some scope for practicing

mediation.

 

Then there is the team working on the project.  The team will almost

always be an ad hoc group of discipline specialists - international and

host country professionals - thrown together for a particular project

that may run two or three or five years under one project manager.  Some

of the host-country professionals may be seconded from a ministry and

others come as consultants from the private sector (and so paid

substantially more than their civil servant colleagues).  Here too there

is usually lots of room to practice peace-making if one is to build a

productive workplace with an affirmative ("can-do") environment.

 

Probably the most important among the things that I've learned from

mediation is active non-judgemental listening.  Sometimes it has

astonishing power.  But even relatively simple things that I have been

taught as good mediation practice like asking people not to interrupt

each other but to write down the points they wish to respond to so they

don't forget them when it comes to their turn have proven extremely

useful in difficult meetings I have managed.

 

I also emphasize focusing on what we're going to do rather than whose

fault it is; reframing, and emphasizing interests over positions.

Unpacking the interests.  Clarifying and asking the team members to, as

far as possible, come up with their own solutions while keeping an eye

on where we're going.

 

I think I've learned most of these techniques in my mediation training

but I guess some of them are just [un]common sense made conscious.

 

John Brown, Principal

Brown & Leowinata Ltd.

Human & Organization Development Consultants

52 Eleanor Drive, Ottawa ON  K2E 5Z7

Voice 613-274-3972