Review by John Wade
Published by: (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999) pp 244.
This article has been reproduced with permission of
Bond University Dispute Resolution Newsletter September 1999, Vol2. For past Bond
mediators, courses, publications, see website.
The dispute resolution movement fluctuates between triumphant anecdote and dogma, and fragile connection to established forms of learning and wisdom. Helpful connections are found in literature and practice particularly to psychology, communications and cross-cultural studies. A rich field also lies waiting in management, military and business schools in relation to how to make wise decisions.
Mediators, lawyers, psychologists and other skilled helpers are fundamentally assisting people to make wise decisions in the face of conflict and uncertainty. This book, Smart Choices, and similar books which follow it, will become standard prescribed texts for lawyers and mediators as mandatory knowledge and skills slowly emerge in university and other dispute resolution courses.
In simple language and using easy-to-follow instructions, the book takes the reader through a series of cognitive steps which are essential to learn and practise in order to reduce the chances of unwise decisions for self or client. Although hindsight is 20/20 vision, this reader was reminded constantly of major organisational, legal and family conflicts which had escalated at least in part because none of these helpful steps were identified or addressed.
These ten steps can be practised like a golf swing. In summary, they are set out in each chapter as:
This reader has already used “the system” of smart choices to advise clients diagrammatically on litigation decisions, and future career choices.
The book raises many fascinating questions for theorists and practitioners including:
Smart Choices provides an excellent overview of systematic knowledge, process and skills attached wise decision-making. For conflict managers, this is the centre of our world.
Confidentiality remains the keystone of mediation. Individuals and businesses alike widely regard mediated negotiation as a critical and necessary part of dispute resolution. Mediation confidentiality promotes candor and facilitates mutually...By Rachel Ehrlich