Martha C. Bean
Complexities Visualized & Resolved
Words alone rarely work to convey a concept to people with differing experiences, interests and expertise. Imagery can be highly effective at helping visualize a concept, and thus put it to work. Concepts require abstract thinking -- images are ideal for moving from abstract to concrete thinking and back again. Often, cues about what images to use in a conceptual drawing are provided by the group itself. Metaphors also help when conveying concepts. Examples of each of these are shown below. Some of these are slide shows, so be sure to click to get the full impact of the concept drawings.
Assess when to litigate, arbitrate, mediate or collaborate
Above is an illustration of the the different paths to take when settling a dispute. The top path shows a litigated outcome -- where a judge or jury imposes a decision. The path running the the center of the picture shows an arbitrated outcome -- where parties agree to adhere to a decision made by someone else. The trails and roads at the bottom of the image show collaborative outcome, where parties negotiate the result and make their own decisions, sometimes with the help of a mediator or neutral facilitator. Martha produced this 'Landscape of Settlement Options' with Jeff Bean, her brother and a talented attorney/mediator active in the Northwest.
In interest-based negotiation, parties have the opportunity to bring more 'to the table' than they started with. They don't have to stick with an oversimplified version of their relationship; they can add value for one another. Here is an illustration of the foundation of interest-based bargaining: expanding the space and options within which parties can negotiate a settlement. Some refer to this as 'making the pie bigger'. Click on the slide show and five it a try it!
Staked to the ground and unable to negotiate
Once, in a complex multi-party environmental negotiation, a person stayed quiet for much of the debate. Representing a crucial group with much power over some attributes of the situation, his silence was understood as intransigence by some. After days of hearing little from the Silent One, a member of the group asked -- in a generous fashion -- what he was thinking. "I would love to help you move forward here -- it makes so much sense! But I feel staked to the ground! I can't move!" The first picture you see here was drawn on the flip chart as he spoke. "Yes, that's it exactly. I have little room to offer anything." Again, and with generosity, he was asked what was keeping him tied down. He began to explain what constrained him. One by one, the constraints were understood by the group, and accepted. In a couple of critical instances, the group was able to brainstorm with the Silent One and generate options and ideas for working within or even severing the binds so the group could indeed move ahead without putting the Silent One -- or his job -- at risk. Click on the picture to see what was drawn on the flip chart once the Silent One was fully heard.
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