Those of us in the ADR field know that coming together and coming apart are times that can be fraught with conflict whether these transitions involve individuals, families, corporations or non-profits. We also know that, with the right factors in place, these types of change can be healthy and offer great opportunities for all involved. With that context in mind, I am very pleased to announce that Resolution Systems Institute has spun off as an independent, non-profit organization after 18 years of operation and growth as an affiliate of the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) in Chicago. And the transition was remarkably smooth!
The factors that made this change so smooth are similar to those that enflame some deals and ease the way for others. One early, decisive factor: the leadership of RSI and CCR agreed about the core idea of becoming two organizations. Those of us who work with others in conflict have seen what happens when there is disagreement about the core issue of separation. When one spouse or family business member doesn’t want a separation, everything else can become a battlefield. Once the separating entities are on the same page about the very fact of separation, the rest can become a problem-solving task. For RSI and CCR, while our missions were compatible, we both saw that we are sufficiently different that separating into two distinct organizations was a logical response to RSI’s growth.
Another factor that eased the transition? Good lawyers. Fortunately, both RSI and CCR received invaluable pro bono legal assistance from leading Chicago law firms. This experience demonstrated once again that smart, deal-oriented lawyers can make all the difference in setting the tone for working out an agreement.
A third factor? Having parties that understand negotiation, problem-solving, conflict resolution and communication certainly helps. For example, I know that RSI was clear about what our underlying needs and interests were in the separation and we certainly tried to meet those of CCR. Sure, the deck is stacked in favor of resolution when two conflict resolution entities are the two parties, but this experience also argues for the benefit of parties being educated about conflict management and resolution.
And what are the benefits of a smooth transition? As ADR folks might predict, when a transition is peaceful, the opportunities for a positive future relationship multiply. Indeed, we mediators often work to rescue the possibility of a good future relationship when conflict has sent parties to us. A smooth transition like the one between RSI and CCR allowed us to maintain our good relationship and even benefit from some classic win-win outcomes. For example, RSI will sublet office space from CCR, which will provide a good deal on rent for us and some extra income for CCR. We also plan to continue to work with CCR on court ADR projects when opportunities arise
By the way, if you are scratching your head because you never knew RSI was part of CCR, you are not alone. While we were related to CCR since our beginning, RSI was seen by many as our own “brand.” Now that perception matches reality!