Management Conflicts
A small, closely held high tech company developing very specialized software consisted of three equal shareholders and a Board of Directors of five including the three owners, the accountant and the lawyer.
The President of the company, a founder and the creative force in the company, became divorced after many years of marriage and began a new relationship with an employee of the company. Their relationship became quite serious and, eventually, they were married.
In the same time frame, one of the other founders of the company, a Vice-President, began a relationship with another employee. That relationship too became quite serious and they too ultimately married.
The third founder, and also a Vice-President, was in a stable marriage and never experienced any extra-curricular relationships. He found himself in the unenviable position of trying to keep peace between and work with his partners when the following events occurred over 15 years into the existence of the company:
The Vice-President’s girlfriend blatantly accused the President’s girlfriend of having had sexual relationships with one or more of the other male employees of the company during working hours at the offices of the company, thus impugning the President’s girlfriend’s reputation quite seriously and infuriating both the President and his girlfriend. The President’s girlfriend strongly denied the accusations and became distressed in the extreme.
As a result, after years of friendship and a successful working relationship, the President and the Vice-President became bitterly divided and virtually unable to be in the same room, let alone work together effectively as officers and directors of the company. Decision-making became impossible. The company was on the verge of foundering in its industry in which it had long been the leader. The entire equity and revenue flow which had been built up in the company over years of creative and hard work was at risk.
At that point in time, Mr. Dallinger, engaged in “round robin” discussions with all of the parties involved . resulting in the two founders developing a renewed successful relationship.
The company went on to greater success and, ultimately, was acquired by a larger diversified entity engaging in the same industry at a very reasonable price and on very favorable terms substantially negotiated by Mr. Dallinger which permitted the parties to move on with their business and personal lives.
The President and the remaining Vice-President continue to work together suceessfully to this day.
The ability of Mr. Dallinger to foster and reinvigorate communication between the parties was a product of his expertise in ascertaining individuals’ needs, fears, desires and limitations and in facilitating group communications under extremely stressful and exigent circumstances.
Years later, the founders of the company freely acknowledged that Mr. Dallinger had saved their careers in the industry, their company and their valuable investments in it.
A non-profit entity was originally incorporated in New York to serve hospitalized and out-patient individuals suffering from severe mental illnesses by means of a novel, proprietary methodology employing professional actors, writers and directors as well as medical staff to engage with the patients in creating original plays and music written and performed by the patients themselves. Specialized, creative drama workshops including psychological interventions when necessary by medical staff always present were a salient feature of the methodology which was created and initiated by the two founders of the non-profit organization, both successful in the entertainment industry in their own right.
The methodology, when properly employed, resulted in the ability of severely mentally ill individuals to express their thoughts and feelings, some for the first time in their lives, in the guise of fictional characters which they had created.
After years of successful operation in the New York City area, the organization began to experience “political” and “creative” differences on its Board of Directors which consisted of highly recognizable and wealthy individuals used to having precisely their own way. The organization was on the verge of breaking apart which would have resulted in a tragic loss to the patients of this wonderful methodology which had helped literally thousands of patients in their struggle with the isolation and pain of mental illness.
Initially as a charitable donation of his services , Mr. Dallinger successfully negotiated an agreement to sever the operations of the organization such that the founders were able to move the organization to Los Angeles where they had themselves relocated. The methodology remained the proprietary property of the founders licensed to the remaining New York organization as well as the new Los Angeles organization.
Once re-incorporated and relocated in Los Angeles, the organization experienced intense growing and operating pains as well as the usual fundraising challenges faced by virtually all non-profit entities, especially arts organizations. The founders, though skilled in their artistic modalities and their creative endeavors, where uninitiated in the ways of business and, especially, shared decision-making. As a result, Board Members would come and go. Executive Directors would also come and go. Relationships with sponsoring medical facilities were often strained and fraught with impending peril to the organization. Creative employees and medical staff were also often dissatisfied with the administration of the organization.
Ultimately a group of young doctors, artists and administrative staff members collaborated to propose a transition plan pursuant to which the now aging founders would, over time, relinquish control of the organization to the next generation. The founders were experiencing classic “approach avoidance” reactions to the plan and to its actual implementation.
At that point in time, Mr. Dallinger, at the request of the founders and other Board Members, agreed to become temporary Chairman of the Board in order to facilitate and to oversee the process of transition.
As a result of Mr. Dallinger’s effective assistance in encouraging and fostering candid communication at Board Meetings and increased accountability and cooperation in follow up procedures, the organization was able to avoid dissolution and began its journey and transition toward collective, independent control by individuals other than the founders themselves. Patients’ interests were thus protected and the good works of the organization for over 30 years were preserved.
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