NEWS FLASH … the difference between success and failure can sometimes be just a tiny shift in how we do things. Here’s my recent experience.

I am on a panel of custody mediators at the Second Judicial District Court. When I was first appointed to the panel, the mediation program administrator would reach out to me, on a case-by-case basis, and ask whether I was available on a particular day and time to conduct a mediation.

I would open my e-mail inbox and there it would be … a request. I would hold my breath to see if my calendar was open that day. I have a pretty busy schedule and often the request for a mediation just a couple of weeks in advance. Probably 80% of the time, my answer had to be NO, I wasn’t available.

I would feel really badly and have to write back that I was really sorry, but that day/time didn’t work for me. Being able to accept a case only 1 in 5 times was very frustrating for me and it sure created a lot of extra work for the administrator. And what if she eventually just didn’t call me anymore??

What else could I do? How could I improve this low acceptance rate?

Success and Failure Green Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.I was driving home one day an idea popped into my head.

What if every month, I looked ahead to the next month’s calendar and offered to hold a few dates and times for these custody mediations? Then, if the administrator contacted me when she had a case to schedule, she would know that the time slot was mine because it was prearranged.

The great news is that the new system has worked beautifully. It has created MUCH less frustration for both of us and fewer ‘back and forth’ e-mails.

And what’s really amazing is that it was such a small shift in how we did business … that turned a failure into a rousing success.


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