A disaster has unfolded in Ukraine and beyond in the month and a half since Russia invaded. Thousands of dead and injured, reports of horrific brutality, millions of refugees and towns and cities reduced to rubble. Russia is also suffering from economic sanctions, the loss of many of its brightest and best and a pariah…

In the 1930’s anthropologist Gregory Bateson developed the concept of Schismogenesis – the creation of division. He defined this as ‘a process of differentiation in the norms of individual behaviour resulting from cumulative interaction between individuals’, or groups of individuals. A process of this sort can result in individuals or groups drifting apart, almost becoming mirror…

To what extent do we have control over our future? There is a lively debate among philosophers, neuroscientists and others (summarised in an article by Oliver Burkman) about the degree to which free will exists, or whether what happens to us is predetermined by what has gone before. Burkman concludes his article with the reminder that:…

John Sturrock and I recently had the pleasure of contributing a session on game theory and mediation to a workshop on global conflict and dispute resolution hosted by the Delhi Metropolitan Education College. Preparing for the event led me to reflect further on game theory and its relationship to mediation. In summary, game theory analyses…

“Humanity has outsmarted itself. With its ingenuity, this tribal ape has created a world its tribalism can’t manage. We know this…But the knowledge is not enough.” So began Martin Wolf in a recent article in the Financial Times following a meeting of the finance ministers of the G20 – one of the institutions created to improve…

Erisology has been defined as the study of disagreement – where people are no closer to understanding each other at the end of an exchange than they were at the beginning. Sound familiar? Eris was the Greek goddess of discord.  The term was been coined by John Nerst, a blogger in Sweden, who is interested in…

In recent years we have learned a lot more about what have become known as cognitive biases and how they may play a part in negotiation and mediation. These are mental shortcuts that save energy and get us out of tight spots that have evolved over thousands of years. Well over a hundred have been…

Given Peter Drucker’s memorable observation, how valuable an asset is trust in shaping a culture? What role could mediators play in strengthening it? From a purely economic perspective there appears to be a strong relationship between levels of trust and output per head (as the chart below from ‘Our World in Data’ demonstrates). As with…

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” was a saying I heard quite a few times while growing up, as another childhood wheeze bit the dust. I returned to it while reading Michal Sandel’s recent book ‘The Tyranny of Merit’, in which he takes a very critical look at the notion of meritocracy….

Might we get better results in many of the tasks we undertake if we gave more thought to the way we do things before focusing too early on what to do?  As mediators we know that spending sufficient time on the process of problem solving and negotiation pays dividends in terms of the content. There are…