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Couples Therapy For Business Partners

December 04, 2015

 "Those in the game are blind to what those looking on see clearly." -Chinese proverb

Recently a professional who had gone through the breakup of his partnership a few years ago came to us for help before embarking on a new one. “I did not realize how hard it would be on my own,” he admitted. “In retrospect, I think we could have worked it out.” He confessed that he just didn’t know how to approach the issues that led to the breakup.

We advise those who are considering a partnership to be clear about their objectives; partnerships are a long-term solution and forming one to solve a short-term business problem is a recipe for failure. The opposite is also true: it is a

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TAGS: Facilitation, Mediation

The Neuroscience Behind Why Third-Party Intervention Helps Business Partnerships

August 03, 2015

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  - Albert Einstein

If you have realized that your conflict with your partner isn’t going away, that self-awareness bodes well.  But you may be wondering, “we spent hours talking about our problem with little to no change, how is talking some more to a stranger going to help us?”

The answer is that a third party can be a powerful force to change existing dynamics. Change, as we all know, is hard.  It takes recognition of what the problem is, identifying a new way of doing things, and then activating learning pathways in our brain. One way a mediator can help is associating a reward with the outcome that comes from taking an action.

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TAGS: Mediation

When Good Conflict Goes Bad

June 15, 2015

"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." - Margaret Heffernan

The 50 –year partnership of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger is a fascinating study for many reasons, but especially in terms of how they communicate.  Buffet has described it as having a comfort and ability for “intense discussion” that comes from a “complete lack of envy.” That sounds ideal, but for many people in partnerships this can be very difficult to achieve and maintain. 

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TAGS: Mediation

3 Ways To End A Stalemate With Your Business Partner

May 22, 2015

Business partners, especially those in smaller partnerships, often agree early on that when it comes to big issues in the business, decisions must be unanimous. If they don’t agree, they don’t do it. This seems fair enough, no one wants to feel forced to do something they don’t agree with, but it can also become a problem.

We worked with two New York-based partners recently who were at odds over opening a new office on the West Coast. Though Jake and Amy had talked about expanding to other cities at some point, Amy did not think they were ready and was not convinced that this was the right city for expansion. Jake was going to move there for personal reasons and saw it as an

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TAGS: Mediation

Are You Collaborating Or Compromising With Your Business Partner?

March 09, 2015

There is no more effective way to agitate a mediator than to suggest that the result of a mediation was a compromise for all involved. While compromise is a basic negotiation practice, where both sides give up something they initially wanted in order to reach an agreement, it is sometimes looked upon as a lose-lose outcome; finding a quick middle-ground where everyone is left dissatisfied to some degree. Compromise is often necessary, especially to resolve a complicated issue when there are time constraints, but it is sometimes used as a shortcut and prevents a solution that would have been more positive for all sides, but requires more time, skill and discussion to achieve.

In a business partnership resolving conflicts though continued compromises rather than taking the time to look for ways to collaboratively find solutions can lead to resentment and ongoing tension. Partners must compromise on small issues for the sake of efficiency, but knowing the difference between small things and seemingly small things that are part of bigger

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TAGS: Partnerships, Facilitation, Mediation

What is the Problem in Your Partnership?

December 02, 2014

Those of us who have been involved in conflict, which is to say all of us, know that resolving issues early, while they are relatively simple is a great approach that is too often not applied.  We avoid conflict and confrontation and hope things will get better.  Sometimes they do.  Often they do not and instead grow more and more complex.

While every conflict is unique, it is important to structure the resolution process to work through the issues in a systematic way that fosters a sustainable solution.  Often the issues in partnership conflict share two common themes: contribution and control.

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TAGS: Partnerships, Coaching, Mediation, Co-founders

Together Into The Abyss?

August 11, 2014

It is all but certain that Freidrich Glasl has never met Arthur T. or Arthur S. Demoulas. Glasl is the Austrian social scientist, well-known in conflict resolution field, who modeled nine stages of conflict escalation and grouped these stages into three phases. The Demoulas’ are cousins and partners in a third-generation New England supermarket dynasty that employs 25,000, has annual revenue of $4.5 billion and a total of nine (yes, only nine) shareholders.

But the story of the Demoulas’ decades-long conflict illustrates Glasl’s model in a way that few business disputes have. Though a private company, the Demoulas’ legal disputes have been very public. Their saga cannot be summarized in a blog post; it is epic. It began in 1971 with the unexpected death of one of the founder’s sons. “Highlights” since then include courtroom fistfights, jury tampering, disbarred attorneys, covert operations in Nova Scotia and tens of millions of dollars in legal fees. After relative harmony in recent years and strong business growth, a new chapter in the conflict has begun as the board, led by Arthur S. Demoulas has ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

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TAGS: Facilitation, Mediation

Merger Therapy: What You Need to Know About Your New Partners Before You take the Plunge

July 07, 2014

Our latest research “Best Practices in Investment Advisory Partnerships” (download here) was profiled in the June 2014 edition of Inside Information, a subscriber-only publication read by investment industry leaders. We appreciate the author, Bob Veres’, take on our research. He has been a thought-leader in the field for decades. As he points out we did put a lot of thought into, “asking all the right questions. What makes successful partners stay together? What builds the commitment and resilience in a partnership? What can people do to feed that and make it grow?” Some of his comments, and even the title of the profile “Merger Therapy”, gave us a different perspective on how others might see the value in our work.

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TAGS: Facilitation, Mediation, Merging

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