The latest mediation features and events

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June 2016


Opportunities to Reflect and Learn

For your interest.....

"Fear is wet pants, courage is doing what you need to do with wet pants."

 Dan Sulllivan, Stategic Coach

The EU Referendum

Out with the Old, In with the New

A few thoughts

As part of Indigo PR’s Mavericks & Teams blog series, they asked John Sturrock to share his thoughts on collaboration and interdependence.

"We are in a fascinating period in British politics. The old certainties are gone. Now is the time for new thinking, a break from the old paradigms. You don’t solve your problems by using the same thinking that got you into them, as Einstein would say.

Nor do we solve problems by maintaining the same linear or binary approach that has bedeviled British politics in recent years. The idea that we must choose between two opposites, a right position or a wrong position, “left” or “right”, “in” or “out”, indeed between “Yes” and “No”, must now be challenged. Most policy choices are more complex than that, and we need to apply more subtle, sophisticated thinking."

Read more here.

Using Mediation Skills as a Leader:
2016 Summer School

Just a few places remaining on this world-class course, at a world-class venue, for leaders who are seeking to acquire a leading edge in enhancing their communication, negotiation and conflict resolution skills.

Our participants come from the public and private sectors, government, the civil service, banking, commercial and legal sectors, alongside independent consultants and others, from throughout the UK and Europe.

The opportunity to learn, network and share with these leaders and other leaders on the course is rare and valuable.

As an option, use this experience to go on and achieve accreditation in our full course (details below).

"I am really pleased that I have undertaken this course. The skill set is useful for life, let alone mediation. It was a real privilege to meet and learn from the course teaching team, who all have huge reputations in this field. All of them have a really calm approach but are able to elicit areas for development and were quite direct about challenge, but encouraging at the same time. I wish I had had time to do this course a long time ago!​"
Dame Sue Bruce | Summer School Participant 2015

Residential Summer School*: Using Mediation Skills as a Leader
28 - 31 August 2016

Module 2: Building Mediator Competence 
 27 - 28 October 2016

Module 3: Assessment
3 - 4 November 2016

* Note that the Summer School is available as a free-standing three-day course. It is also a prerequisite, as Module 1, for attending Modules 2 and 3.

Venue: the superb Blair Estate (pictured above), 20 minutes from Glasgow Airport.

You can find more information about our Summer School and CPD hours here

If interested, register now for one of the remaining few places.

For any questions or to express your interest, please contact us at 0131 524 8188 or email

Women Leaders: Purpose, Power and Presence

Two-day workshop with Hetty Einzig and Liz Rivers
24 and 25 October, Edinburgh

Feedback from our over-subscribed March workshop: 
"Thank you - it was an extremely valuable course to have attended. Good to be encouraged to look for inner resources rather than being bombarded with more reading. It was very welcoming, the teaching was clear and a good, inclusive atmosphere was created overall."

Read more and register

The workshop is highly practical, combining precious space for reflection with focused action. Hetty and Liz are known for the high degree of trust they create, allowing you to “drop the mask” and be seen for who you really are.

Core Gathering Winter 2016

It's been a few years since we had one of our semi-regular dinners/conversations. Stipanowich, Mather, Edward, Ury, Cloke, Limbury, and more, have joined us from around the world. And we had the very successful "Why Didn't We Have This Conversation A Year Ago" series at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer. 

We are planning an event for late November/early December. We'd like its creation to be participative. So, we thought we'd ask:

  • What format would you like to see?
  • Who would you like to see in conversation?
  • Should we have the Core Awards? If so, for what?
  • How can we recognise innovative work in our field?
  • Any other imaginative suggestions?
Let us know what you think here.

Reflecting on Reviews and Reports in Scotland featuring Mediation in the 21st century...


Recently, I have been looking through some reviews into how we resolve disputes in Scotland, featuring mediation in medical negligence, planning and business situations.

The first to catch my eye was a report by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in early 2002, recording numerous recommendations by an expert panel chaired by the former Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Ross.

Entitled “Encouraging Resolution: Mediating patient/health services disputes in Scotland”, the report made a number of proposals. These included that “litigation has and must continue to have a place in resolving medical negligence disputes, but should be used only as a last resort. We believe that litigation should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and all those involved in medical negligence cases should work to reduce the number of cases that follow this route.”

In considering mediation, the report identified “a need for qualitative improvement in how medical negligence (and non-clinical) disputes are resolved, seeking outcomes that have a more encouraging impact on attitudes, culture, perceptions and relationships.” It said that “Mediation is a process that would add qualitative value”.

Read more here.

John abseils to raise £5500+


“Many thanks to all Core News readers and others who kindly sponsored my leap into oblivion from the Forth Rail Bridge recently. In total, we raised well over £5500 to help Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. The donation site remains open at this link

People have wondered what it felt like. To be honest, I applied Daniel Kahnemann's system 2 thinking, rejected fight or flight mode, sought to have an optimism bias and overcame my risk aversion. Peer pressure made it almost impossible not to go over the edge anyway, and I remembered Edward de Bono's words that "
90% of errors of thinking are errors of perception”. I decided to overestimate my own ability, was aware that the donations were effectively sunk costs and that I needed to save face. I was fuelled by oxytocin throughout...or was it that extra glass of wine the night before?"

Why Undergo Training?


After successfully landing a damaged Airbus on the Hudson River and saving hundreds of passengers, United Airlines pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger, cited for his poise and calm demeanor during the crisis told investigators, “I immediately took over flying from my co-pilot and made a series of command decisions.I knew that for 42 years I’d been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience: education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so I knew I could make a very large withdrawal.

(Thanks to our Olympian colleague, Caitlin McClatchey, for drawing this to our attention as she researches how leaders perform under pressure)

The 2016 Spring Course has just concluded. Here are a couple of observations from participants:
"This was the best course I have been on and I would recommend it to anyone who has to deal with difficult situations or people."

“I wanted to let you know how much I ‘enjoyed’ the course.  I use the term ‘enjoy’ on a reflective basis.  At the time, with palms sweating and mind racing, it’s perhaps not the term I would have used!  I found it energising and refreshing to be placed so far outside my general competences and, whilst uncomfortable at the time, I am now reaping the benefits of the skills gained in my everyday working and personal life.”

Reflecting on Two Long Mediation Days…..

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”

“Traveller, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.”

(Antonio Machado, as quoted and translated in Daring Greatly, Brene Brown)

Those were two very long and eventful days. Though the prospect of reaching an agreement appeared remote – at best – at many stages of the mediation, at 1.30 am as we entered the third day of the mediation, the parties finalised their agreement. Now we find ourselves reflecting on the learning from this challenging and rewarding experience.

Certain themes emerge as we look back. These apply to various stages in the mediation so, rather than a chronological approach, we have selected a few events from the mediation to explore each of these themes.

Read about these themes now, as observed by recently trained mediator Anna Howard. working with John Sturrock.

Mediation in Construction, May 2016

from Centra Consult Newsletter:

"The one thing I'd do differently is that I'd contact you and have a proper conversation about this before it went off the rails completely. Nip it in the bud. The guys on the ground were too close to it. We stopped working on site, thinking that would bring you to the table. You then served notice of breach. We thought we had nowhere to go but to make a claim. We went off to the lawyers quickly and the thing then became contentious."

Modern problem-solving is moving away from the contentious, position-taking tendency which has characterised some of the construction industry's approach to disputes, both emerging and deep-seated. It is possible to be rigorous and direct without getting stuck in a binary, win/lose impasse. Of course, most matters will still resolve even after such an impasse, but only after a lot of money, time and energy has been spent - and often at the expense of the speedy completion of a project and the contractual and professional relationships which are the essential glue of so much of what we all do.

Two questions to ask, therefore, are these: "Are my professional advisers recommending mediation? Are they skilled in using it?" If the answer to either question is "No", the next questions are "Why not?" and "What are we, as clients, going to do about it?"

Read the whole piece here.

Sandy Dickson, Centra's principal comments: "I have just been on the wrong end of an Adjudication with an adjudicator – and I spent a few days observing a case in the Commercial Court. Why anyone would choose these routes over mediation is a complete mystery to me."

Core Alumna in Curtis Cup Triumph!


Elaine Farquharson Black, who undertook the Core flagship mediation course a few years ago and is a leading planning lawyer, recently led the UK team to a great victory in golf's Curtis Cup, the ladies' equivalent to the Walker Cup. As the Scotsman reported: "she has now joined an elite band of women to taste success as a Curtis Cup captain. Don’t for one second underestimate that achievement and well done to Farquharson-Black for adopting a style of captaincy that focused on her players feeling relaxed and making sure that “enjoyment” was the biggest thing she wanted them to get out of the event." 

Well done Elaine!

Core Reading

Poacher's Pilgrimage: an Island Journey

by Alastair McIntosh


Our guest conversationalist at this year's Summer School is Alastair Mcintosh, the well known Scottish human ecologist, broadcaster and author of such highly regarded books as Hell and High Water and Soil and Soul. Alastair also spoke at last summer's Core Fringe Conversations on the topic of climate change.

His new book is, in his words, "....a study of war and nonviolence in our times, the island spiritual experience and theology for the future, human ecology and climate change, Celtic mythology and some implications for space, time and consciousness, and the development of what I call "an ecology of the imagination"". Knowing Alastair, it will be challenging and provocative.
Follow John Sturrock on twitter a@coremediation.

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