Clive Lewis OBE is a leading dispute resolution specialist and founding director of the Globis Mediation Group. He is an accredited commercial mediator specialising in helping to solve complex one on one, team, organisational, multi-party and collective disputes. He spoke to us about the mediation work he carries out in the NHS and where Lumina Spark comes in.
The NHS (National Health Service), founded in 1948, is the UK healthcare service. It provides quality healthcare that is free at point of use. Employing 1.5 million staff, the NHS sees 1 million patients every 36 hours, and has an annual budget of £116 billion.
What does your mediation work involve?
Clive: I’m a business psychologist specialising in employee and industrial relations. Much of my time is spent mediating disputes in a room with two or more people, trying to help them find a solution to a problem that they have. The process tends to run over one day, even if a dispute has been running on for many years, and the focus is on interests, as opposed to power or rights. And helping people to understand what it is that they want, and why they want it. So pretty much for a couple of days a week that’s what I’ll be doing – trying to help out colleagues who are having difficulties with each other.
You say you can fix problems in a one-day workshop. What is it you actually do to fix a problem in a day?
Clive: So, the way the process works is there is some pre-work. So, I speak to each of the people by phone ahead of the one-day session, and sometimes that’s half an hour, maybe an hour, for me to get an understanding of what the issues are, and critically, what they see as a good outcome. What is it they want as a result of the day?
And then on the day itself we get them talking. I get them talking as quickly as possible. And normally for most, that conversation should have taken place years before. So, now they’ve got an opportunity to say what’s on their minds to their colleagues.
The morning, maybe early afternoon, I would describe as messy. Lots of putting stuff on the table. And then once that’s been done it’s well, so what? What do you see as an outcome? And then trying to get colleagues working together on getting those conclusions. And that’s then put into a document, which is normally a one-page document that they can take away.
And then there’s normally a follow-up that’s required. And my role will be to go back and help them to work that through because they can’t do it on their own. If they do it on their own, they’ll fall out again. So, they need someone neutral who can go in and help them do that. So, I’m not a surgeon, I’m not a clinician. I understand how the mechanics of health work and I can just facilitate conversations.
And when people have a chance to speak, all of us as human beings – wherever we are on the planet – want to be heard and listened to. And if that isn’t given, problems normally escalate. And that’s why I have the job that I do. It’s to give the forum where people can be heard. And it takes a day.
Instead of outsourcing this dispute resolution in the NHS, should we be training the Lumina Learning tools and the basic tools of mediation and dispute resolution as part of the recruitment to senior positions?
Clive: So, I hope we can make some progress along those lines. Part of the problem in health is that an excellent consultant can then be promoted to become what’s called a clinical lead, so they have team management responsibilities. But they’re not equipped with line management skills when that happens. Without a doubt, being able to equip them with Lumina Learning tools I’d highly recommend, as we do with trying to run in-house mediation skills training, for example, so it can be managed in house.
The final thing I would say is I don’t mediate alone. So, I have no power as a mediator. So, there will always be in the room either the medical director, or the clinical lead, who can make a decision on behalf of the trust about whether they can change bed space, theatre utilisation, looking at job plans, all those kinds of things. So, my role is to make sure I can get the right people in the room so that we can make those decisions and not waste that day of time.
Where does Lumina Spark fit within the mediation process?
Clive: It would be part of the one-day session. Just an hour, introducing the tool, running portraits. And what’s useful about that is it gets people talking, because people are fascinated about looking at the portrait. And so, it’s great news for someone who does what I do, because it oils the wheels for conversation, oxytocin levels go up. And what I found is that people were much more willing to have the difficult conversation that followed. Lumina Spark portraits can also show where individuals’ differences arise that might be causing conflict. And this helps those involved understand themselves and their response to the issue and also understand why their colleagues might be responding differently to the same issue. So yes, Lumina Spark absolutely has a place in the mediation process. Maybe not all the time, but certainly for some cases.
Find out more about Clive’s mediation work. Watch his presentation on the topic here.