“If two people are in a room, there are actually six to consider: “What each person is; what each person thinks he or she is; and what each person thinks the other is.” So began a recent Guardian editorial on relations between Iran and the USA. This observation is attributed to the late wife of…

A recent visit to Japan coincided with the inauguration of the new Emperor Naruhito and the start of what has been designated as the ‘Reiwa’ era. This is officially translated as beautiful harmony, although other interpretations have also mentioned order and control! At the ceremony to mark his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne the new…

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ is thought to originate from mediaeval falconry! There are a number of variations on the theme – apparently in central Europe the saying is ‘a sparrow in the hand is worth a pigeon on the roof’! A number of cognitive biases are at play…

We are living in an every expanding web of interdependence; built around trade, investment, cultural exchange, digital technologies, and global politics. In such an environment effective cooperation is an ever more crucial. Yet alongside this need there are equally strong drivers spurring on ever more competition for resources, markets, talent etc.  Both cooperation and competition…

Julian Baggini’s recently published book “How the world thinks” is a history of global philosophy, looking at how thinking has developed in different places and times. In the introduction he highlights the importance of not just seeing something from another’s perspective, but trying to see what they are seeing as well. As he puts it:…

When I first started getting seriously interested in mediation over ten years ago, the thought struck me that ‘Shades of Grey’ might be a good name for an organisation involved in this field. Thankfully, given a subsequent publication and film, I didn’t pursue it any further – although if I’d registered the domain name it…

A good friend of mine was recently surprised to see a robot cutting the grass around a well-known landmark in Edinburgh. Coincidentally this was around the same time as I came across a speech given by Adair Turner in April this year entitled “Capitalism in the age of robots: work, income and wealth in the…

The International Association of Mediators conference in Edinburgh last month provided a great opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from the application of a principled negotiation approach, as set out in ‘Getting to Yes’. The conference benefited from the experience of over a hundred leading mediators from around twenty countries, along with policy makers…

One way of describing mediation is as a process that seeks to convert what is apparently a zero or negative sum game into a positive-sum game. This is to use the language of game theory, which analyses strategies that rational players take to secure the best outcomes in interactive, interdependent ‘games’; where the outcome for…

In 1933 Alfred Korzybski wrote: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” More recently (2006), James Robertson wrote (to reference him once again, this time from ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’): “We trust in maps because when we…