A key to mediation, which is also useful in project management, is to work with the people and to work on the problem. The emphasis being that the people are the solution, and the problem is the thing to be solved by use of a ‘process’ to end in a ‘product’

When working on projects and change it is important to understand and engage people, but your scrutiny should be on process and products

For example, if something is to be done, you need to be 100% clear on the ‘product’ to be delivered (what does it look, feel, smell, touch, taste, do) and when will it be received, tested, trained and complete, and what will it cost.

The regular steps are discuss > document > design > demo > deliver > done, with a clear definition of done eg success or acceptance criteria

To do this you may have…
A business requirements document BRD (explaining the need)
A functional spec document (explaining the solution)
A release notes (explaining what has been delivered)
A user acceptance test (explaining success or acceptance criteria) A sign-off (to approve go-live and confirm operational use )

This ‘process’ creates certainty about what will be delivered, by whom, when, and for what purpose. This eliminates confusion, error, omission which often occurs with too many emails, poorly recalled conversations and too many differing recollections of what was discussed or agreed.

If a project is becoming stressed it is important to focus on the ‘process’ (how we work) and the ‘product’ (what gets done & when) rather than the ‘people’ (who is failing) or the ‘problems’ (what is bad). This keeps the energy positive and forward focussed on solutions and delivery rather than negatively on people or problems.

I often use this as a reminder
• If it is not written down how to we know?
• If it is not written down did it happen?
• If it is not written down how can you test or evaluate?
• If it is not written down how can you be sure?
• If it isn’t written down properly, you’re not sure exactly what happened.
• If the records are not correct, neither is the product.

When people are working collaboratively to a document, a plan, a story, an output or an outcome there is shared commitment and accountability towards a tangible artefact. This is preferable to a potentially adversarial approach where the attention (and often fault finding) is on the person.


Tim Rogers is a Commonwealth Triathlete, World Champs and GB Rower, and now consultant, coach, IoD mentor and mediator. His public sector work included project manager for the incorporation of the Post Office and Ports of Jersey, and project director for the Health and Social Services Governance Review. He has also supported start-ups and SMEs be successful with 4 clients subsequently winning IoD Director of the Year. He now focusses on coaching people and teams delivering change.


Tim HJ Rogers
Mob 447797762051
MBA (Management Consultancy), ICF Accreditation Trained Coach, Mediator,
PRINCE2, APMG Change Practitioner,
IoD UK Rapid Response Mentor