Fighting the Good Fight:
Preventing and Resolving Conflicts in Tech Startups
In this session, Seanan Fong (Founder of the Cylinder Project and tech ombudsman) and Colin Rule (Co-Founder and COO of Modria.com, and former Director of Dispute Resolution for eBay) will focus on managing conflict in startups — both harnessing conflict’s power to spur excitement and innovation while also avoiding the potential negatives of lost morale, anger, and recrimination. Seanan and Colin will walk through the common conflict types in startups (illustrated with clips from HBO’s show Silicon Valley) and then share best practices, drawn from high performing teams, for responding to conflict — with specific takeaways and actionable proactive and reactive strategies. Please join us for this fun and engaging conversation – and bring your best (anonymized) stories about organizational conflict to share.
Seanan Fong is the founder of Cylinder Project and serves as the solo ombudsman to a major tech company. He was an early employee at a venture-backed health startup, where he learned the intense challenges of early-stage companies. Seanan has also served as a certified court-appointed mediator with the Harvard Mediation Program, a teaching team member at the Harvard Negotiation Institute, and a student consultant with the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Seanan draws deeply from his tenure as the intern minister at the First Parish in Cambridge, as well as his experience as an interfaith chaplain at Stanford Hospital. He has a B.A. from Stanford University, where he studied the philosophy of science and human biology, and an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School. He is based in the Bay Area.
Colin Rule is Co-Founder and COO of Modria.com, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley. From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School. Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now eDeliberation.com) which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of Mediate.com, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA. Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Pepperdine University, Creighton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University. Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He serves on the boards of the Consensus Building Institute and the PeaceTech Lab at the United States Institute of Peace. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.
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