The latest news and activity at Core.

View this email in your browser

Core News: Summer 2014



Core’s chief executive, John Sturrock writes:

“This is a rather more personal Core News than usual. It celebrates the launch of our new website (, the Collaborative Scotland ( project and the arrival of our new member of staff as mediation assistant, Miriam Haboubi (following her colleague, Sarah Osborne, who was an intern for a few months between jobs and who brought great energy to the role). The new website provides a simple portal to access Core’s experienced mediators, with the emphasis on quick response and a straightforward approach. Miriam is available to help:

Core’s principal contact (and website maestro!) is business manager, Jolene Robinson, at and 0131 524 5188. And for those who missed our move, Core’s new office is at 10 York Place Edinburgh EH1 3EP.

I write this as I watch an Edinburgh tram pass the window in our new office in York Place…that the trams finally got moving is in no small part due to the mediation which Edinburgh Council Chief Executive Sue Bruce successfully supported when the dispute was really stuck. That is a great untold story about how mediation can unlock really tough situations. And there were several other successful mediation contributions along the way in that project, all of which will remain confidential. But mediation deserves recognition for its role."
Core's Flagship Autumn Course

This also serves as an invitation to join us in the autumn on our revitalised Flagship Course, Negotiation, Mediation and Conflict Management. We are now offering the course in three discreet modules, giving participants the opportunity to explore the basics in module one over three days and to elect to go on to a deeper understanding of mediation in module two, while opting for Core’s assessment and accreditation in module three.

Early Bird rates are available until the end of June. Read here about these and more. Register now!

Core’s other in-house training, facilitation and coaching services are also featured on the website

A Mediator’s Log

What is a mediation day like from the mediator’s viewpoint? Read parts one and two of a mediator’s journey here, as featured in the June issue of the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland.
Respectful Dialogue

The Collaborative Scotland initiative, with the Commitment to Respectful Dialogue now supported by over 200 signatories (sign here), is our contribution, along with others, to this exciting time in Scotland. Small though the contribution may be, this initiative has attracted media interest and undoubtedly played its part in raising the awareness in Scotland of the need for constructive discourse about the independence referendum and its consequences.

It was good to see Core alumnus John Chalmers chair the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly session on the topic of respectful dialogue, and John Sturrock was honoured to be invited to provide the summing up.

The referendum was again the topic at a seminar with another friend of Core, Peter Adler, at the University of Hawaii Law School in early May. Peter and John Sturrock led the discussion about Public Dialogue in difficult policy and political issues.  A snapshot of the key elements of effective public dialogue taken from our own experiences with Collaborative Scotland can be found here

(At left, John with Peter Adler and host, Chuck Crompton.)
Mediation Reflections from Abroad

John Sturrock reflects on recent interesting personal experiences:

“The phrase “We are all Jock Tamson’s Bairns” resonates for me in two contexts. Firstly, I recall the 50 plus law schools and other learning establishments represented in the International Chamber of Commerce Mediation Competition in Paris in February.  As I write here, it was very encouraging to see hundreds of (relative!) youngsters share a common passion and common values. In their hands, there is much hope for a future based on shared interests.

Secondly, having had the opportunity to mediate in Qatar in late 2013, I visited that fast developing country again, and its near neighbour Dubai, in March, to lead a series of seminars on mediation in the construction industry. While the scale of the projects in these states exceeds anything in the UK, the challenges remain the same, the relationships among contractors, sub-contractors and employers remain potentially fraught, and the potential for disputes remains high. The value of early, cost effective management and resolution of these issues is just as great in the Middle East as it is in Scotland, and mediation has as much a role to play there as here. Slides from my presentation can be found on this webpage. And my blog on the mediation learning is here."

John Sturrock in Dubai with senior staff from EC Harris, the construction consultants.

In late April, I was in Santa Monica for a conference of the International Academy of Mediators (IAM). Southern California seems like a world on its own, with hundreds of mediators vying for thousands of mediations as most of that jurisdiction’s litigation is resolved using mediation. Tensions abound, however, as traditional business models are being challenged and both litigators and mediators seem to be struggling to develop new ways of thinking - and risk being dragged back into messy deadlock. I made a visit to Pepperdine University to see the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, the number one such establishment in the US, headed up by Tom Stipanowich, who was Core’s first dinner conversationalist back in 2005.  

The highlight of my trip was spending an afternoon in the home of Ken Cloke and his wife Joan Goldsmith in Santa Monica. Ken presented me with a copy of his monumental new book “The Dance of Opposites” (see photo!) and we wrestled with that concept in the context of the independence referendum.

Ken will be coming to Scotland, with Joan, for a full programme of events in November. Details soon.

Latest Blogs:

We live in a time of change, of transition if not transformation. One of our jobs as mediators is to help people to come to terms with change, with moving on to new things or at least to new chapters after the closing of old ones. 
See our blog page for reflections on moving on, drawing on the work of Richard Rohr and his two stages of life, and for a description of two very different mediation experiences.

Lessons in Life

Finally, one of the most useful books to come across our desks this year is “Lessons in Life”, a collection of observations on the way in which Nelson Mandela conducted himself, written by his biographer, Richard Stengl. Highly recommended. We finish with this quote from the book:

"Shades of grey are not easy to articulate. Black-and-white is seductive because it is simple and absolute. It appears clear and decisive. Because of that, we will often gravitate toward yes or no answers when a “both” or a “maybe” is closer to the truth…But if we cultivate the habit of considering both—or even several—sides of a questions, as Mandela did, of holding both good and bad in our minds, we may see solutions that would not otherwise have occurred to us. This way of thinking is demanding. Even if we remain wedded to our point of view, it requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of those with whom we disagree. That takes an effort of will, and it requires empathy and imagination. But the reward, as we can see in the case of Mandela, is something that can fairly be described as wisdom."

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues who may be interested.

For more information about Core's activities, please visit our website at:

Copyright © 2014 Core, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
10 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EP

Registered in Scotland Number SC197282

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences