We solve problems by alleviating pressure points within organizations.
Our principals have worked on many projects. Here are some examples.
Moscow Centre for Law and Mediation: A team of Moscow-based mediators responsible for conducting divorce and family mediation over the entire country is too small to handle the caseload, and the expense of traveling to all of the clients is too great. The team needs to be able to handle more cases with less expense. Solution: Train the mediators in online dispute resolution (using web video and asynchronous text), and survey available online platforms to create a result that integrates online tools into a very traditional mediation practice so the mediators can reach clients across the entirety of Russia without the need for travel.
Federal Electronic Records: A United States federal agency that held records dating from the 1930’s in paper files spread across several states and the District of Columbia needed to understand what records it had, destroy documents that should not be kept, comply with National Archives and Records Administration regulations, and make the information in their records available, as appropriate, to the public, interested parties, and the agency staff. The paper problem was so severe that one office was cited by OSHA for safety violations involving stacks of paper in a closed file room. Solution: A long-term project to move the agency from traditional paper records and archives to an all-electronic records system by using some commercial software and by developing some applications internally. The result was the only records program in the Federal Government fully accredited and accepted by the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA).
Problem Solving for One (PS1): Employee and Labor Relations staff in a Fortune 100 company are routinely involved in difficult employee grievances, EEO complaints, and operational difficulties. Although expert in the laws and regulations, staff were not so adept at working with others to craft lasting fixes. Solution: A problem solving process based on a “Problem Solving for One” and a coaching model to help one party identify the best approach to use with another party. The PS1 model allows the staff to evaluate their positions and techniques, and has improved relations with the employees with whom they interact.
Ombudsmanship: The U.S. Army Medical Command faced a public relations crisis when the Washington Post wrote a series of articles on deteriorating conditions at the Walter Reed hospital that prompted Congressional hearings and action. Solution: Prompt repair of the physical facility coupled with a new ombudsman program where all interested and aggrieved parties can come together in a neutral space for face-to-face and online communication and counseling.
Mediation Online: The client needed the most effective process and the best technology to create a confidential, safe environment that promoted good communication for mediation of an employee grievance against a senior manager when a face-to-face meeting was not possible. Solution: A discussion with the participants about their concerns, followed by separate familiarization for each with WebEx and phone technology and the mediation process, followed by online mediation with built-in private caucus sessions with each participant to ensure individual needs and concerns were being met. Each person was able to provide the mediator with documents to be shared during the mediation. At the conclusion, the mediator used the document-sharing feature to facilitate the writing and execution of the mediation agreement.
Legal Services - Access to legal services in the United States is hampered by delays in the court system and the high cost of lawyers. Solution: Work with the Parenting Order Legal Line in Austin, Texas to design an online system for handling a large volume of cases involving parenting orders from the Texas courts enabling parties to resolve parenting order issues without the expense of a lawyer or the delays inherent in the court system.
Technology Change: A subscription television service needed to implement a technology upgrade within one year without adversely impacting their customers. Some customers’ television distribution systems were complex, some customers had to purchase new equipment, and others needed to program their equipment. Solution: An assessment and plan included consultations with two technical teams, customer service staff, and development of a communications and implementation plan. Additional staff were trained and the team systematically made the changes at over 400 buildings, promptly addressed customer concerns, and completed the project on time and without any complications.
Information Sharing and Transparency: A United States federal agency wanted an inexpensive, secure, and accessible way to share information with a wide range of interested parties and the public without risking exposure of confidential information. Solution: Design and manage public archive known as the “Knowledge Store” with over 100,000 documents that allows open access, exists in a walled-off space on the Internet that has no connection to confidential, proprietary, or sensitive information, and has become the archive of choice for over 500 neutrals and 700 labor and management organizations.
Cloud Computing: a federal agency and a for-profit company need access to data, communications, and group productivity no matter the geographical location or time zone. Solution: Design and implement a cloud-based business system for both organizations that integrates technology into their basic business systems so work can be conducted with high security from any online location.
Arbitration: Auditors found significant problems with the way cases were assigned and tracked, and the way neutrals were compensated, in proceedings conducted by 500 neutrals working for more than 600 labor unions across the United States. Solution: Review the arbitration process; reform the assignment of cases; set time frames for work, and bring accounting practices into line with industry standards. Then conceive and manage the creation of an online, asynchronous, text-based arbitration platform used by labor and management in a variety of businesses ranging from medium-sized to Fortune 100 companies.
Executive and Personnel Development: The U. S. Federal Government senior executive corps was over 90% white males. One of the largest agencies (with 160,000 employees) wanted 1) to improve the diversity and quality of its senior executive corps without using quotas or excluding quality candidates, and 2) to eliminate supervisor bias in nominating candidates for training. Solution: Create an effective senior executive candidate development program (SESCDP) that includes program development, recruitment, training development, training delivery, and mentoring. Hiring of SESCDP candidates tripled the percentage of women and minorities in the senior executive ranks within three years.
Group Facilitation: A large school system wanted recommendations from parents, teachers, principals, advocates and students regarding a discipline system that caused harmful unintended consequences (e.g., discrimination and suicide). The primary challenges were: 1) producing a cohesive set of recommendations based on input from a diverse and sometimes divisive large group, and 2) maintaining a focus on problem solving rather than blame. Solution: Conduct a series of regular stakeholder meetings to develop a set of recommendations for the school board using a dynamic problem solving approach focusing on specific goals and issues. Groups, each consisting of a mix of stakeholders, meet and present recommendations for their topic to the large group. Electronic voting devices determine which recommendations to include in the final report. The resulting recommendations include minority viewpoints that otherwise would have been excluded.