The New Ombudsperson and The Quantum Activist

17 April 2011

In my own practice as a “progressive and innovative” Ombuds I listen for and “observe” my clients for opportunities to “transcend” or move their awareness beyond “duality, polarization and ego” so as to create the opportunity for a solution to their issue or conflict.  I don’t always get the opportunity to do this.  Indeed, I have used the “Matrix” movies as examples on occasion with clients so as to open their mind to the reality that “life is a drama” being played out and that we can make choices in a moment outside of societal conditioning and traditional approaches (legal).  I propose to them that when “conflict arises” it signals the opportunity to learn something; and personally and possible “grow and evolve” beyond the given paradigm they are in especially if they are in a repeating pattern.  I may also suggest reading material or other “media” if the client appears to be open to it and it’s fitting.  Thus, The Quantum Activist now also provides insight to the dynamics of life, creation, conflict and mention how a “mediator’ is needed from the “science” side of the mysticism and metaphysical “coin” of life and our existence in the Universe.

Amit Goswami PhD is The Quantum Activist. He discusses the subject of Quantum Mechanics and sprinkles his words of wisdom through out the film on topics relevant to “us” as Ombuds.  He speaks to conflict, need for mediation, duality, cycles of creation and pauses between cycles of conflict that do provide the opportunities for changing oneself and the world at the same time.

It’s my hope that you will view this film and that it will provided a “higher perspective” of awareness so as to keep us from possibly getting caught up in or even becoming “part of the problem” in our work rather than neutral, truly independent and suggesting solutions for both sides of the table with clients.  This is “empowering” of us to “enable” clients in their choices.

Keeping this post short, very busy nowadays as the economy struggles along, but I think this is an insightful and inspiring documentary pointing to the “high ground” our profession can take… above and beyond “man’s laws” and more in line with Universal Laws of Creation that acknowledge the cycles and CHOICES for harmony or chaos.  Enjoy.

On Netflix here:

http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Quantum_Activist/70138491?trkid=496624

Website: http://www.QuantumActivist.com

YouTube Trailer here:

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The New Ombudsperson: Per Se, Pro Se & Economic Austerity

28 November 2010

In the last quarter of the year everyone, from individuals to the largest corporations take stock of the current year, put at least some thought into tax obligations, but also budgeting is now more important than ever; and for once “holding to it” once set.  It’s the time of year where our clients often make a formal or casual call to get our take on what’s ahead and how they can continue to survive given what I am monitoring and seeing is a severe continuance of current economic conditions.  This provides both opportunity and a demand for dispute or conflict resolution services in 2011 for all ombud’s working with individuals, groups and small organizations

The trend is going to continue and has already begun exponentially escalating where complaints and grievances from lower and middle-income Americans need a voice with government and corporate entities.  The paradigm shift from expensive and damaging formal legal services to ombudsman ADR is well underway and beginning next year we will see more formal groups and structures advocate and develop access for informal mediation. We are experiencing and observing a flood of legal issues people are facing as attempts over the last two years by governments, state and federal, to provide a system to resolve economic hardship issues failed or there was never enough capacity in the system to provide equal access.

In my own recent conversations, where corporate America and government continue to demand payment and use their coffers and legal staff to force their will and redefine the law and policies “on the fly”; individuals are screaming for someone to help.   It used to be that legal aid offices would provide legal services for anyone qualifying.  Now, what we are hearing is that many legal aid offices have cut staff and some will close in 2011 forcing individuals to represent themselves.  Indeed, for a few clients I’ve found myself contacting the court on behalf of a defendant to see if there isn’t some other venue to resolve the issue.  Court staff have commented to me that they are taking more and more “legal aid” type calls where gaps in services are rapidly appearing.  The issue now though is will a court empower self-representation including providing pro bono court mediators or allow a case to be dropped if the plaintiff will agree to informal mediation.  Usually, once in “the system”, the case stays in the system.  Given economic conditions and the increased intrinsic demand for self-representation in circumstance where no assets are available (house, car, job gone) the courts seem to be quietly ignoring “non asset” related cases and keeping asset based pleas.

The result is a good level of systemic chaos and dysfunctional limbo as complaints and cases overwhelm the legal system from people with no means to pay for services.  This means individuals will either find an attorney to legally coach them through their civil case or find a system informal and external to the courts to resolve “guilty” issues.  While local government and private benefactors may have provided financial support for legal aid the clear shift must now be to shift efforts to funding and developing local networks or groups for referral by the courts where a quick and “audible review” will allow plaintiff and defendant to have an “informal hearing” as recommended.

To do this, again, it will take courage and foresight in that if you are contacted by a plaintiff or defendant you could advise them to include in the plea or answer a request for an ombudperson to handle the issue.  You would get agreement, consensus, and then contact the court thus taking proactive initiative.  I know this is not traditionally accepted, but if change is to happen and stability and economic well-being restored, we must recognize we cannot depend on government alone.  How this is to be paid for requires the same collaboration that’s taking place now for “recovery” and that would include soliciting the court for partial payment, while possibly seeking grants from foundations and other corporate institutions.  At the same time, where individuals are seeking “debt relief” concerning unsecured assets or lines of credit, this should not be open season for “junk debt collections” and only “real assets” where loss of a business or family are in jeopardy and are a priority.  For “collections” cases Pro Se coaching is the most effective and efficient method as individuals need and seek “relief” to start their lives over.

And finally, IF you are a corporate, legal or university institution and currently not at “capacity” per the charter of your organization, why not consider expanding your scope and doing community outreach, be of service to others “outside” the organization and at least take some temporary initiative during these austere times.  Coach, mentor, consult, advise, call it what you will… it’s needed more than ever and provides a great “social responsibility” opportunity to at least help individuals represent themselves or sponsor a move to resolve their issue informally though your entity may even be party to the complaint.  Change is here… it has to happen…


The New Ombudsperson: Career Choice And The MBTI Instrument

28 October 2010

I have the distinct pleasure this year, several times, to talk to many individuals contemplating becoming an Ombudsperson.  Some were offered a volunteer position of some sort in elder care, others recognize they have played a similar role consistently in their previous or current job; and still others are simply curious.  To help evaluate this personal decision you may want to consider taking the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI to determine if your innate personality characteristics are suited to the profession.  This is but one step to help come to a decision; and could assist with guidance towards any type of career consideration.

I bring this into the equation because in my “other practice” in 2009 I had bid a project and then was asked to take the MBTI online and submit the results for purposes of “team makeup” they said, which I did.  I’d also taken this, as many of you also probably have, as an undergrad in college where requirements to be a “lab rat” to graduate were also required.  What I noticed is that in the approximate 30 year time span from my original MBTI and the 2009 “test”, I’d kept consistent with my “assigned category” from then to now, which can be good or bad depending on how one wants to look at it.

Below are some raw links to further investigate for yourself and even take the “exam”.  It can also be administered in person professionally, please Google for yourself to explore dozens of resources online:

https://www.mbticomplete.com/contents/learnmore.aspx

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator

To spike your interest even further here is a table of personality type categories below:

And if you’ve stayed with me this far, nope, didn’t win that bid, but rediscovered “why” I took the degree program I did 30 years ago and “why” I continue to be what I am today.  I hope this helps everyone select a potential new career for 2011 that is in alignment with your “core” disposition; or confirm your present career choice. Oh, and in case you are wondering… INFJ.


The New Ombudsperson: Asymmetrical Dispute Coaching Trend

9 September 2010

In continuing to look at and compare 2009 to 2010 trends in our OO practice it’s clear that the majority of new intakes end up being Conflict Management or Dispute Coaching from “one side of the table” so to speak.  I have also been able to be more selective about the types of engagements I take due to increased volume and less time to handle everything that comes.  My “other practice” contributes equally with my OO practice towards identifying opportunity and offering services to others in need.  Fees have stayed consistent and volume is good compared to trying to get agreement to mediate from both side of the table.

The types of conflicts or disputes we get involved with vary widely, but all have current economic “deterioration or erosion” themes to them.  We take only organizational or business entity type cases where there are either “internal” issues between principals or “external” B2B/B2C issues over products or services; and partnership issues.  Individuals are “getting divorced” in business or seeking justice and fairness from a business or corporation that has taken advantage of them.

We are getting more email about large corporations seizing cash in bank accounts and then closing them up with no method or recourse. The client has “no notice” from a bank for example. Add insult to injury and the financial institution is inflating fees, creating new fees and forcing people into collections over fees they issued before even having a customer service person provide assistance.  You’ll read these stories in the news… I’m advising people to call, write, email their Congressional Rep.  There is more, but this is typical.

Another instantly agreed upon point with our clients is that they are in consensus with us and take a position where the objective is to resolve the issue without “financial damage” to the extent it’s going to collapses or kill the business entity off.  In the case of small online businesses, there is often not a lot of capital or insurance “laying around” that they can lose, unlike Fortune size companies who pay it out and then pass it down to their customers later.  We do see some “sense of entitlement” from individuals looking to score a “settlement” with large and small companies and advise with full ethical considerations taking extra time to “present perspective” from how the “they” view it and then sort out what’s equitable.

Our skills in “business valuations” and “intellectual property valuations” or determining the “value” of work in a contract have given us the basis to assist principals in breaking up a company, sorting out ownership, preserving resources and “rights” and then moving forward into their individual interests as quickly as possible. Yes, time is a motivator to get things resolved in this case.  I also tend to point out how fortunate they are to even be able to have something to divvy up in comparison to what is happening nationwide since 2007… they too agree.

So, it used to personally “distress me” a bit that I couldn’t get “both sides” to the table at the beginning of this year and instead I just roll with it now.  I have never had the other party come to the table late, they seem content to work it through on their own.  I often work “incognito” with my clients and do not try to provide intervention immediately myself.   I often take any statements or email from “the other side” and use to to bring perspective from, instead of a “point of conflict” view my client has, to a “point of neutrality” and objectivity for them based on what I can glean or gain through insight.  It’s proven successful over and over this year to do this type of Ombudsperson ADR.

Good luck in the “blue ocean” and I hope everyone is able to make a difference, bring peace, preserve resources, maintain dignity for all parties.


Ombudsperson ADR: “Lofty Idealist” & the “Real World” of an OO

9 May 2010

“Lofty Idealist”, do you know this person?  I do.  I love this guy/girl especially when I all of a sudden recognize them in our communications about the profession; there are a lot of us out there I’ve discovered… nice.  They are honest to the core, well intentioned at all times, take a practical approach to difficult situations, keep with an open mind and display a sort of naive’ innocence, hold to the highest of ethics and values as best they can; all the while knowing that at any moment “reality bites”.  To help you spot them as an Ombudsman ADR leader they could be left-handed, you might notice their prescription “rose colored glasses”, some volume of We The People: A Guide to Sociocratic Principles and Methods on their bedroom nightstand, framed along side their degrees are Ethics and Standards “reminders” on the wall; and as you enter their office restroom, a abstract picture of Don Quixote thrusting a windmill is over the “throne”.  If you bump into them it will be in a coffee shop /  book store, community event or non-profit project where they know they can apply their skills and serve others incognito if needed.  If you get the chance to brunch with them you’ll notice a person firmly committed to their ideals, polite, attentive, altruistic about others in conversation and constantly pointing out “right from wrong” in the polarized paradigms of culture and society on each sub-topic of contemporary society in the conversation.  They also never complain or become a part of the problem, rather, recognize it’s important to stay “independent” so they can provide a solution and communicate it like “magic”.  Rarely do they “rage against the machine” because they realize they are within “six degrees of separation”, we are “all One” in the world.  They make the best of their position be it working from the “inside out” in a large entity they know is not perfect, or from the “outside in”, not polarizing and judging, but embracing conflict towards peaceful goals for all.  They live and breath it… don’t they?  They also know to take each day… one day at a time and that it’s okay to leave it undone for the moment if “loved one” needs them… tomorrow arrives soon enough.  Wise, ethical, inclusive and patient with everyone is this Lofty Idealist.

In the “real world” of disputes and conflicts Lofty Idealist “leads by example” at all times and is “collaborative” with all callers and email from “seekers of truth and justice” knowing “in the moment” that such lofty perspectives are relevant to each individuals perspective.  Lofty is a skilled communicator able to “cut to the core” issue as presented from one side of the table and where inequities are detected, provide counsel so as to enlighten or transform the “victim’s” mentality and/or perspective.

Lofty also knows in today’s economy the time required to do intake and analysis far exceeds most client’s bank balances and they negotiate fees based on their altruistic excesses resulting in a ratio of open cases over successes on formalized terms agreements.  The reality faced by Lofty, given the volume of disputes and conflict thrown at them, is that they can serve more people doing ODR than in person.  They are flexible in their business model and dispute resolution procedure by allowing sessions to flow into asymmetrical conflict or dispute coaching if they can’t get the other side to follow the 3rd C, cooperation, which is the true reality a majority of the time.  They are loyal and relentless with their client via empathetic and neutral sentence formulation and terminology so as to provide salve for the “internal conflict” the client often experiences.

There’s more to Lofty Idealist than is discussed here or than “meets the eye”, but you get the idea.  As time passes, and this will take decades no doubt, Lofty is like a soothing rush of a stream over the “rocks of ages”, gently shaping and changing culture and society one moment at a time, one day at a time, one client at a time.  In the same vein, Lofty has turned the loneliness of the profession into a pillar of solitude and strength so as to muster and prepare for the next “noble” encounter.  When given the chance, Lofty is more interested in communicating out in the “real world” at open community meetings about Ombudsperson ADR, non-legal informal methods and the “whys” of it all; rather than with “vertically aligned” peers or entities where “preaching to the choir” is of little innovative value to those we serve.

Finally, if Lofty Idealist “vibrates” with you as to how and where the profession is unfolding I’d say just let yourself “slip out of the box” and take the facts and constraints you face and have the courage to “paradigm shift” them yourself.   There’s no “right or wrong” about this, it’s about identifying what needs changed, proposing that solution, working it ad infinitum and then simply doing your absolute best work with all involved.  What I’ve noticed many times is you won’t get personal validation for you or your client… but all of a sudden “miracles can happen” and policy, rules, exceptions or “gaps” are changed… it’s subtle when it happens… keep alert out there.


blogtalkradio: Negotiate!

18 February 2010

This week I just happened to be talking with a prospective client searching for answers, but not “complaining”.  By coincidence they mentioned an Internet radio broadcast they listen to called Negotiate! The show is sponsored by Paulo Amaral a mediator from southern California.  It appears he’s broadcasting one to two shows a month.

The show is oriented towards both consumers and practitioners.  By example Mediation Career Guide by Woody Mosten will be broadcast 23 February 2010 at 10pm and you can call into the show and ask questions.  I’ve tried to support others transitioning into an ADR and Ombuds career field with information and perspective… this would be a good show to listen in on… should be about one hour.  Previous episode titles you can play on demand include: The Promise of Mediation: a transformative view of conflict.  ADR by Hon Dorothy Nelson of the US Court of Appeals.  112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation with Steven Mehta and last on the current list is Repairing Your Credit with Edie Driskill.

I’m certain if anyone wants to be on Paulo Amaral’s show… just give him a call and a pitch and you too could be on blogtalkradio: Negotiate!


The New Ombudsman: Esotericism and Ethics

24 January 2010

It’s the time of year where we all look back over the last year and prepare to continue the voyage by adapting, learning and adjusting our sails so to speak.  In reviewing my contributions on this blog, easily, one of the constant themes I advocate is the “ethics and integrity” of the profession.  I have been doing this because my personal experiences and knowledge have led me, over the decades, to identify these personality characteristics as being key to general business success.  It’s NOT enough to simply talk about “best practice” or what your company is doing to be more socially responsible and attuned to the needs of stakeholder, the local community and customers.  It’s important to BE “it” and it takes courage to do so at the risk of being “politically incorrect” since, depending on the source of information, approximately 80-90% of the population lacks “ethics” as a basis to conduct their relationships.  So, in order to provide some basis I’d like to share something very interesting I discovered over the holidays from a family member who validated my consideration of “ethics” in society in a very esoteric way.

During the holidays we all chat and catch up with each other, share opinions on every topic imaginable and one of those topics was December 21st in the year 2012.  There are all forms of entertainment and esoteric research documentaries on this, just Google 2012 video for a long list of links.  I’ve personally spent some leisure time watching them, including prophecy regarding the Mayan Calendar and the 2012 date.  What one particular family member had to introduce me to was more interesting to me than anything else about the “the end of the world” and that was the Mayan Calendar of the Conscious Evolution of Earth.  If you have to scroll down to see it, I’ve put it at the end of the post here, right click on it for a larger view in another tab or new window as you read along with me.

As I have now researched and read and had it explained to me by my sibling, this calendar is a MAP of our Universe with relation to it’s Consciousness expanding and moving from single cell life through billions of years to become “homo-sapient” today.  Personally, I can see, as I contemplate the Calendar Steps of the pyramid, that some civilizations and cultures are in their Tribal  and Regional stage of development and achievement.  In other civilizations it depicts scientific, technological and advances in awareness at the Planetary and Galactic levels.   The map also depicts the same number of steps you’d see on a pyramid if visiting any one of them on the Yucatan Peninsula.  The first step is the inception of the Universe and “life” as we know it.  I won’t take time to go into excess detail, but anyone interested should research this for themselves knowing that the Mayans had this as a form of reference and it was given to them by the God “Quetzalcoatl” according to myth or legend, take your pick.

So here I am, looking at this esoteric information and I can’t help, but notice what my family member has pointed out to me based on a discussion about “important personal characteristics to be an ombudsman”; and that is on the 8th step up.  In January 5th of 1999 we entered the Galactic phase of conscious evolution and the cornerstone of what “life” is to achieve is… the practice of Ethics in our relationships and everything we do.  For me personally I have just observed the world around me, watched the news and other media flooding our minds daily and long ago came to my own conclusion that people want truth, honesty, character, integrity, justice, fairness and any other relevant adjective you can think of and they are screaming for it daily all around us.  While they scream for it from our representatives in government, the even bigger question and test is going to be, “will they become “it” themselves first?”  Anyway, if you glance up to the 10th and last step, Universal consciousness, this happens almost 2 full years prior to December 21, 2012 and to me this means we are going to see significant change and the conscious integration of all previous “steps”.  These are not single moments or events in time, but from what I have been told and learned, these are the final steps in our current 76,000 year evolutionary path from an Earth perspective.

In the last year I’ve noticed that clients demand transparency in business, “mouth it” to others, but a vast majority of my time is spent coaching or raising awareness where an individual is emotionally caught up in the idea of justice for themselves at the expense of others.  In order for our profession to help people move out of this, we need to seriously check ourselves and be sure we too are able to, for example, not concern ourselves so much with our own self serving needs in ADR work, but making sure we can communicate and move others to follow our example and listen to and meet ethical needs of others.  I would say, and this is just a glimpse here, we are on the verge of being in a new “Ethical Age” and the dynamics and interactions between individuals up through world government is fascinating to observe; and given the moment of chance… advance to a more Ethical world.  If you really wanted to be in the right profession at the right time… it appears we are in the right place.

Happy New Year to everybody… from the heart.

Fig. A  The Mayan Calendar of Conscious Evolution of Earth