Monday, June 1, 2015

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Four days were definitely well spent taking an Alternative Dispute Resolution course through Stitt Feld Handy, accredited through the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. There was an emphasis on role play with the observation and guidance of professional coaches, with ample opportunity to put the techniques and tools we were learning into practice. Evenings were spent reviewing case study material in preparation for the next day.

There were a high percentage of lawyers in attendance, which makes sense, since a good number of cases these days are settled through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration before heading into the courts. You don't need a degree in law to open a practice in ADR, and the industry isn't regulated, so anyone can hang up their shingle. There are professional associations, including ADR Institute of Canada and ADR Chambers that help promote the work of their members.

Principled negotiation is based on a Win/Win approach that instead of focusing on position, focuses on interests. Readers of Getting to Yes may recall the story about the orange:
There were two chefs who each needed one whole orange for their dish. However, there was only one orange available. What they agreed upon was to split the orange in half. One chef went away and used only the juice of his half, while the other chef used only the rind. Had they focused on the other person’s interest in the orange, a better, mutually beneficial agreement could have been reached. Genius. Survive Law
A good mediatior can help parties who seem to have competing interests discover if there are any shared interests that can be used to identify a creative solution that will benefit them both.

Most importantly, if something isn't in your best interests, don't settle.  Two key concepts for me were 'BATNA' and 'ZOPA.'

Going into a negotiation, identify your Best Alternative to the Negotiated Alternative (BATNA). Flesh it out and do your research. Good examples are buying a car or house, where you identify other like-products and know their value. If you can't negotiate something better than your BATNA, don't. Walk and go with the BATNA.

You have your BATNA, and the person you are negotiating with will have theirs. Where is overlaps is the Zone of Possible Agreement, or ZOPA. Some deals have a zero ZOPA and others have a wide range.

Usually it is best not to reveal your BATNA - unless the other side is seriously underestimating what you may have in your back pocket.

The course will definitely help me in my work of stakeholder relations and partnership development, and I'll certainly be able to apply it in my personal life as well. Who knows, I may even pursue the Executive Certificate in Conflict Management.

illustration of negotiators

1 comment:

Dick Grannan said...

Sounds like a great skill to have. I wonder if ADR works only in a structured situation where both parties agree to an initial dialogue? The new changes to the Ontario Condominium Act will be encouraging this approach over court. Is there a similar process if one gets caught in an 'ad hoc' situation when tempers are well warmed up?