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When Worlds Collide: What's Your Operating System?

by Larry Bridgesmith, JD | CEO of Legal Alignment

My worlds often collide. As a lawyer, a mediator, a trainer, a law professor, a consultant, entrepreneur, a legal tech enthusiast and a student of human decision making, there are many points of potential collision.

Recently an unanticipated collision of worlds (aren't they all unanticipated?), has prompted some deep thinking and wonderful dialog with colleagues from many intersecting disciplines.

A few weeks ago I wrote of the unexpected illumination I received when speaking of moments of change with addiction treatment professionals. The concept that change resistance might in fact be recognized as something similar to addiction to the status quo began to resonate with me and others.

At that conference I met a "new best friend" in Dr. Ralph Dell'Aquila, an American Board certified physician leading a medical center addiction treatment facility in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. He introduced me to the ground breaking work of the Milbank Memorial Fund promoting an integrated and collaborative approach to physical and mental health.

The Evolving Care Model developed by Milbank researchers seeks to break down the silos of medical and behavioral specialists to provide a seamless health care system which promotes integration and holistic health care for all. This ideal state requires the colliding worlds of medical and behavioral professionals to recognize the value that other professionals across the spectrum of healthy living all bring value to holistic health and to work with them collaboratively. The obstacles to this ideal state are obvious:

Many of the challenges and barriers to integration stem from differing clinical cultures, a fragmented delivery system, and varying reimbursement mechanisms.

What a concept! Integration in health care could be achieved when we could learn to work across disciplinary barriers to achieve the best outcomes for those we serve. When holistic health is the goal, stigmas of diagnosis (categorization) can be avoided and achieving optimal health can become the "problem we are trying to solve."

Regardless of the professional culture with which we are familiar, the means by which we deliver services and the manner by which we are paid, isn't the health of the individual more important than any of those "self-interests"?

This led to another dialog with a friend and respected mediator/facilitator/trainer in conflict management I have had the pleasure of knowing for over 10 years. Concerned about the stigma of addiction, she finds the concept of the appeal of the status quo and our resistance to it, a key feature of conflict management. However, having to acknowledge being "broken" or living in a failed state is not a framework from which she prefers to work to be able to assist others in resolving their personal, commercial or organizational conflict. I understand and respect that viewpoint.

This led to a conversation that one of my long time best friends had with a theology student in conversation about a person's world view and its impact on accepting change in one's life. The student observed that one's world view provides either the limitations or the avenues for change in personal behavior and compared it to a computer operating system. ("Out of the mouths of babes!")

The apps that we need require an operating system that supports them. When the old operating system is insufficient to work the way we need our apps to work, it's time to change. I haven't failed. I just need to accept that the operating system is no longer good enough for my current needs.

Here's the light bulb moment that came from many trusted colleagues steeped in numerous different professional disciplines. Maybe addiction to the status quo is merely a function of the operating system from which we work. There is no moral judgment in recognizing that our iOS 1.0 no longer works to operate the apps we need in an iOS10.0.2 world. For PC adherents, Windows 1.0 is neither adequate nor supported by Microsoft in a Windows 10 world. That is merely a fact, not a statement of stigma, moral deficiency or personal defect.

What I know to be true (my operating system) might not work anymore to do what I need to do.

The collision of several of my worlds (theology, law, legal tech, mediation, training and consultation) has created a great new analogy and framework from which to do what I love doing: helping people stuck in unsatisfactory situations find reason and a path to improve their state.

Whether the state of the legal industry, overcoming the resistance to change, transforming the billable hour business model, introducing the client focused model into legal services. or achieving Interoperability in legal technology, the core question is the same: does your operating system provide the support for your desired state?

If your system of success and the achievement of your objectives is running slower and less satisfactory than it used to, have you checked your operating system? Can you upgrade it and enjoy better life, relationships and economic success?

That's not failure. It's smart.

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