How do you split a lemon?

Conflict in a family business goes with the territory. It’s the thing that produces creativity and innovation. It can be the impetus for change and can lead to breakthroughs in ideas. In fact, it can be a good thing. On the other hand and especially within a family business it can be destructive, divisive, alienating, heartbreaking, and worst still it is insidious and has far-reaching effects within the wider family and through the generations. We all know the stories of famous household named family firms that have endured embittered battles and even murder: Samsung, L’Oreal, Thorntons Chocolates, Adidas & Puma, Gucci to name but a few.

So how can families resolve conflict? Where to begin? MEDIATION is one way of resolving conflicts. Traditional ways include:

  • Fight: physically, verbally or legally. The strongest, most articulate or wealthy mostly win
  • Negotiate: not everyone is good at negotiating. Emotions can get in the way. People find it difficult to hear what the other person is saying. They often have preconceived ideas and misperceptions about others
  • Go to arbitration: let someone else make the decisions
  • Runaway or give in

MEDIATION provides a way forward that enables people to negotiate based upon a proper understanding of the needs of all parties. These negotiations are based upon what is fair and reasonable and upon the needs of everyone. It seeks a ‘WIN-WIN’ outcome. MEDIATORS can help parties to work together on solutions and to see their dispute as a shared problem that needs to be resolved. In short, the process of MEDIATION is fairly simple. Meet, listen, feedback, explain options and agree on next steps. If only things were as simple as that!

QUESTION: How would you split a lemon?

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