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Dynamic Adaptive Dispute Systems -- Fact Sheet on DyADS Basics
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), with critical help from key experts in the field, has developed a process by which employers and their unions can develop dynamic, adaptive dispute systems (DyADS) to manage conflicts in the organized workplace that fall outside the scope of a collective bargaining agreement (e.g., statutory, rights-based disputes as well as underlying problems in relationships, morale, etc.). Currently, FMCS is establishing pilot DyADS projects around the country. By participating in a pilot project, an early-adopting organization gains free access to the full expertise and resources of the Service. Labor and management work collaboratively to design a cutting-edge dispute resolution system to make the organization more productive and avoid other more costly and time-consuming methods of conflict resolution.

Resolving conflicts within organizations is best accomplished through initiatives involving minimum specifications and incorporating flexibility, creativity and adaptability. The DyADS process applies the simplest rules possible at the outset, and creates an enabling environment focused on experimentation, communication and open learning. The process does not impose an elaborate system or one particular approach. Instead of aiming for massive system overhaul, DyADS supports incremental change that builds on existing strengths.

Here is how FMCS will work with your organization to create a DyADS program:    

Step 1- Convening:  FMCS will convene representatives of labor and management to discuss their current dispute resolution systems and how conflict is resolved in the workplace. FMCS will make initial recommendations about how to structure the design process most effectively. Among the action items at this stage are to: 

  • Identify the appropriate stakeholders
  • Conduct in-depth interviews regarding conflict management in the workplace
  • Encourage stakeholders to identify their interest in DyADS -- including the perceived needs for and the potential concerns about -- such a program
  • Review any written policies the company might have regarding conflict resolution
  • Prepare a report describing our findings and tentative recommendations for structuring negotiations between labor and management when designing a new system. 

Step 2 - Facilitation:  The most time-consuming part of the process, Step 2 is the stage in which the parties engage in the design and early development of a dispute resolution system.  FMCS can facilitate and mediate discussions between the parties. The Service can assist in this stage of the process because it is an extension of FMCS’s traditional role as provider of mediation and facilitation. Here, the mediator helps the parties structure negotiations, establish ground rules, and brainstorm concepts including: 

  • Types of disputes DyADS will address
  • Employees eligible to use DyADs to resolve disputes
  • Dispute resolution approaches
  • Initiation and routing of complaints
  • Personnel to serve in the role of internal neutral
  • System monitors to chart its successes and failures

Step 3 - Training:  Once the system is in place, the key personnel involved in DyADS will require training in conflict resolution skills and methods of alternative dispute resolution. FMCS can offer training and assist parties in identifying private providers. (Click here to view FMCS Relationship Development and Training programs.) Specifically, in Step 3 FMCS can:

  • Assess the skills and knowledge needed for key personnel within the system (different personnel might have different needs, depending on the positions they occupy)
  • Design and deliver training programs for all personnel on alternative dispute resolution practices and communication skills training
  • Provide specific training on the sensitivities of neutrality and confidentiality
  • Design a system that tracks DyADS cases and monitors the program’s progress while maintaining confidentiality

Step 4 – Technical Assistance:  Once the training is complete, and the parties are ready to commence DyADS, FMCS can offer technical support if problems are encountered. DyADS is to allow the parties themselves to create a dispute resolution system that is easy to use and maintain. Nevertheless, there might be situations in which the parties desire intervention. FMCS has expertise and resources that can assist in implementing DyADS, and can also help parties identify outside providers.

Step 5 – Evaluation:    In order for DyADS to be successful, it must be adaptable and open to change when evaluations show the system requires adjustment. Depending on the desires of the parties, FMCS can assist in evaluating the program or help identify a neutral evaluator to periodically examine the workings of the system. The evaluation process might include: 

  • Qualitative surveys on morale
  • Quantitative evaluations on satisfaction with the program (i.e., the number of formal complaints filed, the settlement rates, etc) 
  • Input from key DyADS personnel on suggestions for improvement
  • Review of the evaluations by DyADS personnel with recommendations on improving the program

The greatest success of DyADS can be found in quick and efficient settlement of disputes, open and inclusive communication, and a workplace that encourages resolution of conflict at its earliest stages. Ultimately, these changes in the organizational culture can lead to improved productivity, better organizational learning, and a more successful working environment.

To find out more about our DyADS program,  click on “What DyADS Can Do for You” and  Frequently Asked Questions” on DyADS." 

Let us help you develop a DyADS program that is specifically tailored to the needs of your workplace. For more information, please call the FMCS Office of the General Counsel at 202-606-5444.


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