Offering: mediation, conflict management, facilitated meetings, and planning assistance


Jeanne Franklin
fax: 703.533.8977

Franklin Solutions provides assistance to clients, be they individuals, businesses, or groups, by working with them to resolve their specific disputes through mediation, and by helping clients manage conflict so they can move forward productively. Conflict is inevitable; it surfaces in business as well as in so many other areas of human endeavor. Law suits are one form or stage of dispute. Also, dispute can exist more subtly, exerting a corrosive influence upon productivity.

Franklin Solutions helps clients to:  avert or resolve unnecessary conflict; minimize the harmful and costly effects of unresolved conflict by addressing it promptly; harness positive outcomes from substantive disagreement; and, from the clash of ideas and concepts, make new beginnings.


news, notes and events


Breaking Up

This post does not refer to romantic relationships. Instead, it reframes the role of the discussion facilitator, the neutral dispute resolver, the problem solver. In short, achieving break through can require breaking up.

It is not simply a case of the facilitator listening carefully and empathetically to each person involved in a conflict or conundrum although such attention paid is vitally important. (The listening is how we learn and model a learning attitude which can engender fresh ideas.)

The role also involves employing some strategically chosen techniques as necessary to break up log jams - be they presumptions, assumptions, prejudices - frozen, locked-in-place opinions - that thwart forward movement, that even may thwart needed forgiveness. 

It is shocking to many people (perhaps most of us) to think there is another way of viewing the world from their own view. It is equally shocking for such individuals to see themselves as narrow minded or prejudiced. It is "the other guy" who is intolerant, who is wrong, the problem, a barrier to new ideas - isn't it? These are common and honestly tended states of mind, not ill-intentioned ones. 

We neutrals cannot make persons want a result they don't want. We can't make a person see something differently or that at least there could be more than one way to view the world, the problem, the conflict. But we can try to convey the idea that there just might be more than one way of seeing the picture and that there just may be a shared interest in seeing more of the whole picture - not just one's own view of it - in order to come up with some solution to unpleasant or unproductive argument. 

Perspective is intriguing. Think of the classic example of the sketch that some see as a rabbit and some see as a duck. The sketch that some see as a beautiful, elegantly dressed woman and that others see as a gnarled, irritable old woman. If you walk for exercise, select a landscape view or two and note the appearance. Then come at the view, an object in the view, from another location or two to see what a cloud or a tree looks like from different angles. Sometimes, we are surprised. 

Checking several views of the same problem can be enlightening. It is not that our perspective will be proven wrong. It is that we might become able to see a way to accommodate more of each perspective without fully surrendering our own. The log jam is sprung free and ideas can flow.  

I close this with a wish for a satisfying and healthy New Year.


The Longer, Broader View of ADR: Small Changes Can Make a Large Difference

A theme, not too subtle, throughout a number of my blogposts has been that ADR is not a limited service to be used only after a lawsuit is filed or threatened. Early intervention to improve work relationships and management is recognized and used in some quarters. I along with some colleagues have pushed for it in healthcare as therapeutic, cost cuttting, and as a means to preserve human resources. Some large corporations have built concepts into their in-house General Counsel offices with reported success.

ADR law professor, system designer, and thought leader, Nancy Hardin Rogers of Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law (and former Ohio Attorney General), recently shared some of her vast knowledge and fresh ideas in the American Bar Association's Fall 2016 Dispute Resolution Magazine. In an interview there, she recalls the early years of ADR, fighting for its recognition and use by the legal profession. Now that ADR is increasingly used by lawyers, she focuses her work on broadening its application in community to vexing problems in the public and private sectors. She uses past experiences to underline her point that "...I still believe that even minor process changes can lead to major improvements in people's lives." (at page 22). Practical and hopeful, Ms. Rogers' leadership challenge makes a person want to roll up sleeves and get to it - now!   


Lessons learned: Dispute resolution is too limiting a term for the work we do 

2015-2016 has been filled with challenging work and stimulating experiences.

These are but a few ideas or themes learned from them:

- The scope and depth of culture shift in the workplace is striking. A number of influences (e.g. younger generations and different communication methods) have converged to produce significant alterations or alterations -in-progress to workplace structures, expectations of employment rights and responsibilities, perceptions of performance, beliefs about "being wronged and of wrongdoing." Fresh office designs and meeting styles (how structured, how people participate or behave in them) reflect these developments. Organizations adapting to such shifts in thought while being true to mission and achieving productivity need leadership that can evolve even as it keeps a wise "hand on the tiller and eye on the stars."    

-  There is a sense of speed and heightened creativity in certain industry and workplaces. Somebody has said that ingenuity shows itself more in times of crisis, for example, that the number of inventions and innovations mushrooms during tough economic times. Consistent with that, it appears that there is more and more scientific study and learning being applied to business decision-making.  For example, rising-star intellectual from Harvard Business School, Professor Francesca Gino, (her latest book is, "Sidetracked,") addressed the American Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Section this April to describe some neuropsychology studies that have been put to use in certain companies. One instance is a company with too-high employee turnover, that restructured its orientation or on-boarding process, in light of certain studies, to focus first on new empoyeee needs and interests before teaching new employees about the company. Changing the work environment in that way has notably improved workforce stability - a result that might seem counter-intuitive.

-The work of facilitators, trained in dispute resolution and conflict management, helps people come to terms with rapid changes, need for heightened decision-making, responsive leadership, and of course, differences of opinion that become disputes, grievances, claims. Limiting one's view of a dispute resolver as someone who helps settle already-filed lawsuits is simply too small a view of the resource. Clients looking for various forms of assistance should explore the ways in which a trained facilitator has experience effectively working with clients in different situations. Labels may be misleading and limiting.

- Next up: ask me about studies concerning the important influence of one's sense of fairness.