Startup Accelerator Dispute Network

Startup accelerators and incubators exist to help nurture and advise startups and assisting them to get funding. Startup teams are decision-making machines, making pivotal decisions that have enormous effect on the early direction and the later outcome of the startup. They are also vulnerable, with around 9 in 10 startups failing. We think that the main reason startups fail is because of the decisions that the teams make (a no brainer, right?). During the decision-making process disagreements occur, and it is inevitable that, on occasion, they will have unresolved disputes, stressing relationships even further.

Now, imagine if we could get our accelerator cohort peers and mentors to assist us in resolving our internal disputes without HR departments, managers or using uncivil gossiping or backstabbing of our fellow startup team members.

The good news is that by using a dispute network to moderate our disputes, startup team members can now participate in decision-making debates and not fear having their contribution ignored, dismissed, or ridiculed. What is a dispute network? It’s a network where we enlist our accelerator cohort colleagues and associated mentors to help resolve our internal disputes.

How Does it Work

  1. A startup accelerator or incubator signs up to use, initially free, and add their next intake or cohort of startup teams which usually consists of some 5-10 startups teams, with 2-3 per team. The dispute network would consist of some 15-30 team members plus any associated mentors.
  2. The startup teams would then be briefed on the standard procedures used before any individual can lodge their internal dispute on Disputz network.
  3. The cohort would be notified of the latest dispute lodged on the network, and members can review and offer any feedback on the dispute.
  4. If the dispute is still unresolved, it would then go to the final zoom-type video call, with some eight seats and where both parties put their case forward. Failure to resolve the dispute at this time means the network participants will vote and make a recommendation, posting it on the network.

Tackling Misbehavior in Real-time

Sports Academy: Teaching the lost art of the tackle
We Tackle Misbehavior in Real-time

If a soccer player gave away a free-kick during a tackle, you wouldn’t wait until the end of the game to blow the whistle. You wouldn’t wait until the end of the first half to blow the whistle. Of course, you would blow the whistle instantly in real-time to penalize the offending player.

Why is it that we delay dealing with misbehavior in the workplace? Because we are so unsure of the right way to approach it, I believe. I bet you could ask any two people in any organization how they should tackle misbehavior from a colleague, and they would not have the same two answers. Try it in your organization. My bet is that they would more likely reply “it depends”.

This lack of consistent procedure in organizations creates uncertainty in teams and results in us walking around on eggshells, afraid of offending each other and afraid of being accused of misbehavior.

Object123 is our solution to this uncertainty, by agreeing to tackle misbehavior in real-time and holding anyone that fouls to account.

Caution! – Penalty! – Disqualification!

Caution – Penalty – Disqualification

What if we agreed that there were explicit rules of engagement while having a conversation, discussion, or disagreement? And we also agreed that there would be consequences if we infringed upon these said rules.

As in soccer and many other sports, the first infringement or misbehavior is just a mild caution, but a penalty could result if continued. And if this was not enough deterrent for the offender, a disqualification could ensue.

Nothing is startling about what I just said here: just about every sport in the world has them but try to apply this to a relationship, either business or personal, and people could think that I am crazy.

Well, crazy or not, that is precisely what I am proposing. To design and apply a simple accountability system for how we interact. Reasonable, right? Overdue? I dare say. is my proposal for how we should behave while engaging.

Documented Disagreement & Dispute on Linkedin With a Principles Follower

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Desmond Sherlock: But like all families Ray, we can get offensive behavior. What Social Just Culture do you have in place for your team members to use to address when someone inevitably treats them poorly?
Or do they just have to suck it up and take one for the team? This is not about disagreeing, it is about how we treat each other when we disagree and how we resolve these issues before they become disputes?

Chris Nolan:

Desmond Sherlock: I read it Chris, nothing in it describes just what I said. That is what happens when we fail to live up to the principles? How do we get social justice? Or maybe you could correct me?

Desmond Sherlock: These are Social Just Culture tools that my brother and I use in our organization of 2…ha, but hope to apply them one day to a large team.
“.. a Social Just Culture encourages teams to expose and confront misbehavior, in real-time rather than repress it and backbite the offender.”

Chris Nolan: So that I can more clearly develop my picture of what you are asking, what is social justice? Bridgewater has a transparent environment and presumably, if someone is treating someone unfairly, that information will be able to be observed and addressed by the system. You read Principles? Ray explains the dispute resolution principles more thoroughly than I will here. What is social justice?

Desmond Sherlock: Exactly Chris, what “system” do they use? follow my link above, we use a 3 phase objection process that allows us to confront each other in real-time to address misbehavior and if still unresolved we would then go before a team of our peers NOT HR or management, to resolve any issue. If you could point to me anywhere in Ray’s principles, that they use a social judicial system to resolve misbehavior issues, that become disputes , I would love to see.

Chris Nolan: What is social justice? I believe a meritocracy is actually a more fair way to delegate responsibility than a top down system which often exploits talent for the benefit of the people who hold executive positions. Is your question about race, sexual orientation, or talent??

Desmond Sherlock: Sorry Chris, for me this is so simple and obvious, but then again I have been working on it for over 30 years.
Let me give you a simple example. Your manager forgets your company principles and tells you to shut the f#@k up. You tell her you don’t like that but she say in this case you really deserved it and walks away. What do you do? How is this stand off resolved? The process to resolve such an issue or small dispute I have dubbed a Social Just Culture and as I mentioned before my brother and I use to resolve such disputes. Millions of these disputes happen daily but go unresolved even with principles, I believe.

Desmond Sherlock: Maybe this post I just wrote might help you Chris.

Chris Nolan: I have also been challenged by my own abilities and knowledge relating to topics I am passionate about when others are not already as informed as I. What has historically happened is I would assume that everyone had been exposed to the same information as I before demonstrating my impatience about getting to the point. SO, I’ve been learning to initially be intent on establishing a mutual understanding which a constructive conversation can be founded upon. That’s a big part of why I ask questions. I am also exemplifying the approach you are explaining from my understanding of what you seek to accomplish. I am still developing my understanding about how this differs from the process described in Principles.

Desmond Sherlock: Fair enough, so back to the topic. 🙂 , if you could just tell me how Ray deals with unresolved disputes in his book then we will be on a winner. Surely ( my prediction) you and everyone else has at least one ongoing, unresolved dispute with someone? I believe a Social Just Culture is designed to democratically resolve them or end the relationship, so we can all move on. Well that is what ours is designed for. It has allowed us (my brother and me) to keep working together for the last 17 years, through a lot of huge and dramatic ups and downs and all the way through it ensure we resolve every disagreement and the disputes and bad behavior they do cause.

Chris Nolan: So you use a democratic dispute resolution method? Who is appointing the voting members of the body, you and your brother? Does this cause a bias implication that surfaces and if so, how do you address this? Principles (and Ray’s Ted Talk) explains that employees at any level are encouraged to give feedback. One example was an intern who gave Ray a low rating and mentioned he was unprepared. In his Ted Talk he then says, “Isn’t that great?! I need that kind of feedback.” There is a meritocratic decision making process which despite having the power to overrule, Ray never went against. Perhaps you are interjecting a bias and missing the whole picture of a culture that seeks to learn and grow together in a constructive way??

Desmond Sherlock: Peers decide in my model Chris, not HR or management. As it is usually management that is the problem …ha! Fortunately my brother and I, a company of two, have never needed to go to the peers to resolve an unresolved behavior dispute. We have managed to resolve all our behavioral disputes by ourselves. we also don’t have any peers on this level. But generally, in an organization a team of peers could be utilized. But I dare say when one person knows of their own guilt I believe they will eventually back down and apologize acceptably rather than face their peers.

Chris Nolan: This all sounds reasonable, but I still do not clearly understand how this differs from the meritocratic principles described in Ray’s book. I am reading it a second time and will probably read it at least 4 or 5 times to really absorb the material. 🙂

Desmond Sherlock: ok all you have to do is find an unresolved issue between two people in his book and you might be on to something. It should not be too hard considering there would be billions of unresolved issues and disputes in the world based on poor behavior during a disagreement. Regardless of having a hundred principles to live by we will fail to live up to those standards at times and THAT is when we will need a Social Just Culture to address these times, in my opinion.
So my point is what social just system does Ray use for unresolved issues and disputes caused by misbehavior during a disagreement. Object123 does exactly that, in real-time and will always resolve these failures, ultimately one way or the other, I believe.

Chris Nolan:

Desmond Sherlock: ok I will have a read now but once again my simple question is what’s happens when our disagreements are not so thoughtful or full of thought? How do we clean up the mess then.

Desmond Sherlock: Meritocracy deals more with making decisions based on merit.
A Social Just Culture deals with the mess during and after the decision has been made. The mess being any misbehavior like raised voices, tone, name calling, browbeating, coercion that WILL occur because we are still human and WILL fail at times to live up to any principles. If you don’t understand the failings of humans then you won’t understand the need for a social just culture, in my view.
The gossip and backbiting that occurs in organizations is a result of not addressing these emotional failings during and after the decisions have long been made, I think.

Desmond Sherlock: Yes, after reading it I can see he does not have a Social Just Culture for the mess that will occur during disagreements. People are emotional and will lose their cool at times during a disagreement and rays solution is give up and agree to disagree..ha, very funny. Granted he does say you can take our disagreement to a third person but how do I get justice when the person I was disagreeing with was swearing at me or raised his voice and tone during the initial disagreement?

Sorry Chris you have only managed to convince me that there is no Social Just Culture in Ray’s Principles, no way to clean up the mess caused by two people getting emotional during a disagreement. When the disagreement is not thoughtful or full of thought but emotional.

Chris Nolan: Again, I believe you are missing the picture of a culture that encourages thoughtful disagreement. If someone attacks or undermines the meritocracy and the culture that encourages the thoughtful disagreement, they may have to be cut. It is more important to preserve the integrity of the system that rises above the generalizations you are making about human systems than to preserve one big ego’s place in the environment.

Desmond Sherlock: And again I say sir, what happens when people forget to be thoughtful? You kick them out if it happens 3 times or what? unfortunately that’s what cults do when challenged by the individual, I think. So I think an anti-cult clause needs to be inserted into every organization. A Social Judicial Culture like Object123 could facilitate this need.
I believe most, if not all organizations have a potential cultish problem, in that once established it is unlikely to allow change from an individual and ultimately that is its downfall.

Chris Nolan: Bridgewater’s culture speaks for itself. They find that most people prefer functioning in the meritocratic fashion and may even then find it difficult to function in a less evolved organization like one which you are describing. You are projecting your biases at this example. It’s also a business and not a charity so we are not really talking about serving one person’s big ideas of how to reinvent the wheel. We seek to develop and then maintain an environment that consistently produces financial gains. Bridgewater is the most successful hedge fund of all time. Would you tell Picasso to use water colors because that’s what you think looks better??

Desmond Sherlock: Sorry I didn’t know you were the spokesperson for Bridgewater Chris.
But personally I would prefer to chat with Ray, I am more convinced he would understand what I am questioning here. Ok see you.

Chris Nolan: Happy you are hearing me. I am not any kind of official spokesperson haha, I have been learning about the methods for about three years now. I study successful people, I also came into this with a big ego and a closed mind that I thought was an open mind.

Chris Nolan: Did you notice I’ve been testing your ability to practice what you preach here? I’m giving you the feedback you are declaring is necessary but in the format I’ve learned here. It’s called radical truth and transparency 😎

Desmond Sherlock: Object123 works on agreeing to use it first.
We have not agreed to do that Chris. If we had of agreed I would have cautioned you on many ways you have delivered your message, in real-time. Anyway I will leave you with what I consider your dogma. I guess I am hoping to create an anti-dogma process.

Chris Nolan: You are seeking to poke holes in other people’s methods to find a place for yourself. Do you know where you are right now?? This is a truthful and transparent environment. We are not running your process, we are running the process I am familiar with in order to give you a taste of the feedback you are abstractly requesting. Seeking to harmonize with others rather than finding everything you think is wrong may be a benefit to you. In other words, try and establish some mutual ground FIRST. Then clearly express your perceived problem and then question, perhaps entertaining some of the merit of the thoughtful responses instead of continuing to seek to poke holes in everything. Again I once came into things with a big ego, thinking I was smarter than everyone. Learning with Ray has humbled my mind. That said, I feel I should give myself a pat on the back about how patient I’ve been here. Take care Desmond…

Desmond Sherlock: Chris please read my first question I asked of Ray, not you. My question is still waiting for an answer.
I don’t think you answered it only mentioning something about a “system”. I would love to know it? Chao!

“But like all families Ray, we can get offensive behavior. What Social Just Culture do you have in place for your team members to use to address when someone inevitably treats them poorly? Or do they just have to suck it up and take one for the team? This is not about disagreeing, it is about how we treat each other when we disagree and how we resolve these issues before they become disputes”

Chris Nolan: Are you demonstrating the behavior you are asking about on purpose? ” … to address when someone inevitably treats them poorly? … it is about how we treat each other when we disagree and how we resolve these issues before they become disputes?” You are treating me poorly Desmond, I’ve spent time here to patiently learn about your thought process and give you feedback. You’ve done almost nothing but challenge me and poke holes in every bit of logic I’ve shared, and when you are wrong you attack my position to comment. It’s ironic, to say the least. From my perspective, you are attacking the meritocracy rather than seeing how you can participate and add value. Ray describes the whole process in his book, maybe you will give it a second read (try to learn something) 🙂

Desmond Sherlock: Chris Nolan so you have taken issue with me and my behavior during our conversation. What does Ray recommend?

I would recommend first you:
1. CAUTION me on my specific poor behavior (using evidence and in real-time ) and if I don’t acknowledge it or justify my behavior then:
2. OBJECT and if I don’t apologize or justify my behavior then:
3. STOP me and if I don’t give you an acceptable apology or justify my behavior then:

Then we go before our peers and plead our cases and let them adjudicate.
That is the answer to my question that I originally asked at the start. If you did follow this process I would feel confident I could justify my behavior and go before our peers and be will to be judged by them, would you?
Now you know what a Social Just Culture looks like and I believe every organization should have one.

BTW you could have cautioned me on my “spokesperson” retort, my sarcasm is unacceptable, IMO

I rest my case, thank you .

Desmond Sherlock: I found this in Ch 6 page 501. I am here to fight for a change as per my proposal above.

Desmond Sherlock: My point being what do we do when our message is not conveyed calmly but delivered with emotion, especially anger, using sarcasm, accusation, rhetorical questions , raised tone and volume, dogma and absolute language, for example? There is no Social Just Culture tool within Principles that deals with this, as I thought previously. I guess Principles would not be for me unless such tools were added.

Chris Nolan: The issue is your mental process is destructive. You miss the whole point of seeking to cause credible parties to disagree in order to learn, TRIANGULATION, in Principles. What you are explaining to me is essentially Ray’s process by a slightly different way of thinking about it. In response to your screen shot, you go to the Principles rather than undermining the process. You Desmond, seek to poke holes in everything. Perhaps you are intent on tweaking a principle but it’s still not clear to me what isn’t covered in the book relative to what you are telling me. In other words, you’re explaining to me a portion of the principled process in your own words and demanding that it isn’t in the book. Your mind has already decided that you are not going to find a way to navigate a disagreement in the book, then you showed me a screenshot that explicitly shows the process for navigating such a situation.

Desmond Sherlock: Fair enough you have expressed your opinion and I have expressed mine. It is all there transparent for all to see. I am happy with that. Have a good day.

Ray Dalio: Because of the radical transparency and the clearly specified high standards for mutual consideration, though there is vigorous debate, it is very easy to see good and bad behavior. Most bad behavior takes place behind closed doors so, in an environment in which there is so much transparency, better behavior is the norm. 

Desmond Sherlock: Granted, however, Even if it is the norm, in my view we still need a Social Just Culture for the occasions that it is not thoughtful or what do they do then? I still don’t know? Even though my conversation with Chris here was in the open and transparent, it is not hard to pick out some poor performances on both sides during our debate. If I had of had an agreement with him, from the start, to use our Social Just Culture then, I dare say we would have been able to OBJECT to these misbehaviors, in real-time, which would have changed the dynamics, I believe. The problem I see is that people are people and we will fail at times during a disagreement, with both at fault with no means to address these faults, in real-time, unless we use a Social Just Culture , during these times.

Anyway thanks for your input Ray, but I beg to differ, sorry. I believe a Social Just Culture is always going to be useful and necessary in every organization and in every personal relationship for that matter.

Chris Nolan: understood, part of the purpose of exploring this here was to stress test my understanding of the culture that promotes a different way of handling this topic. Thank you for validating this here.

Desmond Sherlock: Once again Chris I beg to differ with you also, that anything has been validated by anyone yet. That is, I began this thread with a very simple question, what do we do when people misbehave during a disagreement? Ray only replied that radical transparency reduces the likelihood of this occurring but could not state that it never occurs in his organization or any others that use radical transparency. Of course it will occur on occasion as rare as it might be and I will still wait for your answer and for Ray’s answer to my pressing question, what should we do when it occurs? I have already supplied my solution. In my view, validation of this thread will only occur when I accept that my question was answered satisfactorily. Thanks for you time.

Chris Nolan: this has been a very informative experience for me. I’ve found that some of the best advice I ever got was to listen to my own advice. In other words, we tend to project our weakness onto others. I went back through all of these comments last night and I feel your question was answered in a satisfactory manner by me and also by Ray. We should not continue this merry go round any further, you are still missing the picture. Perhaps given some time, you will open your mind to the concept of an environment that functions in a way that cancels out the tendency you are insistently demanding can not be cancelled out. Your mind is closed. You are asking a question in a way that cannot be answered because you are not allowing yourself to see the picture. That’s on you Desmond. Take care man. I’m not going to comment to you any further here so if you must have the last word, go for it…

Desmond Sherlock: You said “I feel your question was answered in a satisfactory manner by me and also by Ray.”
And that answer is/was what in a few words?
I don’t think that this is Trumps’s America, where one can just fudge there way through a conversation. If you and Ray answered my question of “what do you do for the occasional instance when someone misbehaves during a disagreement ?”, then can you just remind me and all others reading this what’s was your answer? Here is what we do when we misbehave, not rocket science mate.
I will continue to ask this pressing question to you and anyone else but of course you don’t have to answer me but please don’t gaslight me as though you have answered it.

How to Resolve Disagreements Before they Become Disputes

I have a possible solution to resolving disagreements before they become disputes, that you can try without any expensive therapy 🙂

  1. SPLIT THE DISAGREEMENT into two parts.
    • The content of the disagreement and
    • The behavior while delivering the content. Then DISAGREE with the content but OBJECT to the behavior of the delivery when one finds it offensive. Do this in tandem and in real-time.

  2. SPLIT THE OBJECTION into 3 levels or consecutive phases (Must always start with number 1 the Caution and escalate if unsatisfied)
    1. Caution
    2. Object
    3. Stop

    And agree to give appropriate responses to each level. Either justify your offensive behavior or..
    1. Give a simple acknowledgement to a Caution, then return to the disagreement or…
    2. Give a simple apology to an Objection, then return to the disagreement or…
    3. Give an acceptable apology to a Stop, then return to the disagreement or…

    USE A FINAL DEMOCRATIC PROCESS if the offending behavior is still unresolved then find some of both your peers to get them to adjudicate.

    I call this and the category is a Social Just Culture.

    * ensure all parties agree before you start and be careful it has not been fully tested yet, only between my brother and I

You Started it!

Star Wars IWill Finish What You Started GIF - StarWars IWillFinishWhatYouStarted FinishHIm GIFs

Why is it that when we are offended by someone’s behavior we end up being even more offensive in reply? Because they started it, simple. Of course this is a childish reply and as adults we would never be seen giving such an excuse for our offensive behavior but deep down I think that is what we still believe.

It explains every conflict, dispute and fight we have ever had. If someone has dared to cross us first then we will make sure they will remember not to ever do it again, by crossing them by even more.
The offended becomes the offender and so the cycle has continued for milenia.

But imagine if we lived by, and agreed to, the principle of being less offensive and what effect that would have on our lives?

The way I see it is that we have 3 choices when we are offended

  1. To be equally or more offensive in return
  2. To be passive or submissive and suck it up buttercup
  3. Or to object, which is a neutral stance

Objecting seems to be a lost art. For example when was the last time you actually said to someone that you objected to their behavior? Never, is my bet.

That is why I have developed Object123. I believe it can allow us to be less offensive when we are offended and help de-escalate a situation when someone is offended by the other’s behavior, without having to be submissive.

Of course for this to work we would need to agree to use this method and the process can be even used when one fails to use it correctly, by objecting to this behavior also. So it becomes sort of a singularity that can self correct itself.

Worth a try.


Our Psychological Safety Framework

Object123 is a self-help tool for resolving disagreements before they become disputes.



Eg: “OK granted”
If one is upset by the other’s misbehavior or anger they can pause the conversation & caution the offender in real-time and he/she would need to either acknowledge or challenge the caution or it can be escalated to an objectionion.


Simple Apology

Eg: “Sorry I was out of line”
If the caution is not adequately addressed then the offended person can escalate it to an objection. Now the situation would need a simple apology or a further challenge to respond to the offended person or it can be escalated to a stop.


acceptable APOLOGY

Eg: “Sorry, I was unfair because…& next time I will …” If the dispute reaches a STOP because the original caution and objection was not addressed appropriately by the offender, an acceptable apology would now be required or the dispute can be taken to a hearing before our peers to assess the matter.

how we deal with misbehavior

The fear we have of upsetting people and being upset when we disagree.

Psychological Safety is the latest buzz word for corporations especially since the 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review on Google and high performing teams. There has been a lot written on the subject with many claiming to be experts and with years of research under their belt. Authors such as Brene Brown, author of Dare to Lead and Timothy R Clarke, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety, have written extensively on the subject and their work sounds valid but there is just so much of what we need to know in order to achieve true psychological safety.

They seem to have focused on all the behaviors that team members should and shouldn’t do and what the team leaders should and shouldn’t do to enable these identified behaviors. Their information and data is exhaustive and exhausting.

However, there is another way to solve this overwhelming problem of dealing with misbehavior. Instead of focusing on how we all should behave (in the future) to achieve Psychological Safety, we simply focus on how we object to others misbehavior, now, and build up a knowledge of how we should behave, one objection at a time.

This is our simple Psychological Safety framework that allows us to moderate each other’s misbehavior (anger), in real-time and direct. Now the janitor can object to the CEO’s misbehavior and know that they have the protection and safety that the framework provides, with everyone being held accountable, regardless who they are.

Whatever causes someone offence can be deemed misbehavior. For example, I find anger offensive. Others may find use of certain words offensive and then of course there is tone, volume, rhetoric, lying, ignoring, being dogmatic, etc etc etc. The point being that we should be able to argue our case during a disagreement without being offensive and be willing to modify our behavior if it is offensive. It is no coincidence that we seem to most likely to lose our cordial behavior and become angry and offensive when we have a disagreement. This is why most of us avoid disagreements.

Object123 allows us to disagree safely. The special sauce to OBJECT123 is our understanding of the difference between disagreeing and objecting. When we disagree it is with the content in the discussion but when we object it is with the misbehavior in the discussion. The Object123 agreement allows us to Alt-Tab between content and any misbehavior at any time, consciously dealing with misbehavior when we are upset or offended by it. Thereby quickly and efficiently nipping it in the bud, any small misbehavioral incident, during a disagreement, before it becomes a dispute.

Relationship Caution Protocols

Relationship Caution Protocols

One of the most financially successful sports globally, without argument, is soccer with the top three teams in the world being valued at more than $12 billion. The game is controlled by standard rules and a referee using a whistle along with yellow and red card caution protocols. When an infringement occurs the referee will blow the whistle and award a free kick or use a card against the player responsible. The following are the standard caution protocols for the use of such cards:

“Should a player receive 2 yellow cards in a game, they will be shown a red card and will be suspended for 1 match. If a player receives a straight red card, he is immediately dismissed from the field, cannot be replaced and will miss a few games. If a player believes they have been wrongly cautioned he can appeal this decision.”

Imagine trying to run a professional sport, worth billions of dollars but without standard rules of play or caution protocols in place. I say, it would be near impossible and more to the point, it is actually these agreed-to rules and caution protocols that have enabled the game to grow and flourish as it has over the last 150 years.

At the same time business and personal relationships are dissolving due to the lack of standard rules of engagement and caution protocols, in my opinion. The costs of divorces globally, in our society is also in the billions of dollars annually, not to mention the emotional and psychological costs.

It seems crazy to me that, for just a sport, so much effort is invested in standards that keep participants accountable and yet when it comes to business and personal relationships there seems to be no standard rules or caution protocols.

But lets imagine for a moment we created a simple standard engagement rule for relationships and caution protocols to govern them. For example, a standard rule being when one is offended by the other’s behavior they can use our standard protocols to govern this offending behavior. If the offender disputes a caution protocol they can make an appeal to the offended person and eventually appeal to an outsider as a last resort. I believe that I have created a simple set of caution protocols that if agreed to, could be used and could change the face of personal and business relationships.

Based along the same vein as soccer’s caution protocols, with two people relating and when one has taking offence to the other’s behavior, these caution protocols can be used to resolve such offence: *Note: These are applied by the offended person in real-time and direct to the offender.

  1. CAUTION (Like blowing the whistle) – then the offender would need to acknowledge or it can be escalated to an…
  2. OBJECTION (Like the yellow card) – now a simple apology would be required from the offender or it could be escalated to a..
  3. STOP (Like the red card) – now the offender would need to offer an acceptable apology and is dismissed until doing so.
    *After a Stop is activated the alleged offender can appeal the decision or use an outsider if they really felt unfairly treated.

Getting upfront agreements to the caution protocols allows both parties to know how serious a dispute can get and that accountability and responsibility are paramount, always.

The Object Proposal

The Object Proposal is my attempt to get a level playing field for personal and business relationships. It allows us to deal directly and in real-time with controversial issues when we don’t want to be walking on “eggshells” to avoid the resultant disagreements, arguments and conflict that can come with them.

Forming the Object Agreement

Firstly it requires discussing the behaviors that we find offensive and setting up agreements with each other that allows us to object in real-time if we feel these agreements have been breached and we have been offended. It consists of proposals on how we be behave when we engage and proposals on how we disengage if these agreements are breached. Here are my proposals:

ALIN – Anger, Lying, Ignoring, Nagging

The basic premise of the Object Proposal is that while engaging, if one person is offended by the other’s behavior, whether that is through Anger, Lying, Ignoring or Nagging, then they can temporarily suspend the topic of conversation, by objecting to that behavior, in real-time. There are 3 stages or levels to the objecting process starting off with a simple caution. An analogy is baseball’s three strikes and we’re out, or soccer’s free kick, yellow card and red card.

COS – Caution, Object, Stop

  1. Caution: Starting with a caution, the offended person can inform the offender of the perceived breach and if the caution is sustained the offender can simply Acknowledge their breach and the conversation can resume. This can continue with any number of cautions and does not necessarily need to escalate to an objection unless the offender refuses to acknowledge their breach.
  2. Object: Failing to acknowledge the caution means the offended could step up at this point to an objection and now the offender would be required to give more than just an acknowledgment, but now a Simple apology.
  3. Stop: And you guessed it, if the objection is not given a Simple apology then the offended can escalate the objection to a Stop and the offender would then be required to give an Acceptable apology,

ASA – Acknowledge, Simple apology, Acceptable apology

This is how we make amends when our behavior is deemed objectionable. The level of our contrite response will also correspond with the level of objection used as with COS.

  1. Acknowledge a Caution
    • Example: “Ok, I retract my jibe”
  2. Simple Apology for an Objection
    • Example: “I am sorry for my insulting remark, I was out of order”
  3. Acceptable apology for a Stop
    (Needs to be accepted by the receiver)
    • What I did, “I am sorry that I used insulting language”
    • Why I did it, “Unfortunately I fell back into my old habits of name calling”
    • What I will do next time. “I will deal with the issue next time, by offering you an agreement proposal to fix my problem rather than use name calling”

For far too long, I believe, we have allowed each other to get away with poor behaviour, especially during disputes and disagreements. This poor behavior will add up over time and eventually can erupt into overblown conflict when “the last straw” is added or “death by a thousand cuts”. The Object Proposal (and agreement) is a great way to bring us into line (if in fact we want to be treated well and we are willing to treat others equally as well) and dissipate any anger that may be building up due to mistreatment during a disagreement. It also encourages us to speak up and be heard, knowing that we are protected by our explicit agreements and by a simple process that allows and encourages us to OBJECT.

Flock You!

One principle with 3 simple rules to keep the flock together but never clash.

Imagine if we humans could devise a simple principle with 3 simple rules to allow us to work at our optimum together and yet not clash, crash or have overheated interactions together, even if we vehemently disagree. When you watch this video you will see how these starlings do it in flight.
Their 3 rules, as proposed by the researchers, are how one starling interacts with her 7 closest neighbours:

  1. As one flies steer towards each other of the 7
  2. If one of the 7 birds turn then the one turns
  3. Finally don’t crowd each other.

Now let’s see if we can apply a similar principle to people, to allow us to explore any topic and stay calm even if we disagree. My three-rule proposal is based on firstly splitting our conversation into two components, the Object and the Subject. The Object is the topic that we are talking about and the Subject is about us and how we deliver the Object. At any point we can step outside the Object and make the Subject the Object if we in fact have an objection to how the Subject delivered the Object or topic. This mental gymnastics has its benefits as we will see later. The three rules are for how we make such objections.
The first objections is just a caution and can be delivered as simply as “I call caution” and state the grounds.
The second is an official objection ” I object” with stated grounds.
And the third is “Stop” or three strikes and we’re out.

  1. Caution
  2. Objection
  3. Stop

At each step we agree to how the receiver to the objections should respond.
A simple acknowledgment and retraction for the Caution.
A more formal apology for an Objection
And an acceptable apology if the conversation had to stop due to the contempt for rules 1 and 2.

If the conversation cannot be restored due to the Stop call then a third party and eventually our peers can be involved to assist. It is quite possible that, like the 3 rules used by flocking of birds, we may only need to get such agreements with just 7 people in the organisation and the system could work.

Worth a try to see.