Exchanging great ideas and connections fuel the best days. So, we want to share key resources from our service areas— intercultural communications, conflict management, and organizational effectiveness. Following are pragmatic articles, books, interviews, videos, and links to others; some of these cite us or we’ve authored. It’s just the top of the tip of the iceberg.

Articles + Information

Read some of the latest and reference a few of the standards in organizational ombudsman program design + measurement, as well as leadership and intercultural communications, which Pacifica has written, been cited in or used to expand our perspectives.

These materials are only for information. Please do not edit or alter reprints. Reproductions are not permitted.

  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, 2010

    by Kathryn Schulz | Organizations lose unaccounted millions because many people don’t have the emotional capacity, political will or sense that it’s going to make any difference to point out a suspected error or discuss a mistake or misunderstanding. Schulz’s exploration into mistakes and problems and the cultural contexts for the need of always being right proposes the benefits that can result from conflict, if we adopt the mechanisms for being able to be wrong.

  • “Board Champions for the Ombudsman,” NACD Directors Monthly, May 2008

    by Jonathan E. McBride and James S. Hostetler | Organizational ombuds programs vary widely in their objectives, structures, operations, and foci of effectiveness. The multiple demands placed on corporate boards, especially as regards overcoming unethical behavior drive the authors’ perspective. They propose an alternative model in which the ombudsman program reports to the Board, rather than the espoused standard of the highest possible level of the organization. Citing Pacifica’s measurement work, McBride and Hostetler also point to the contributions made by organizational ombudsman programs.

  • “Employment Dispute Resolution Systems: Experience Grows But Some Questions Persist,” Negotiation Journal, April 1996

    by John W. Zinsser | Review of a precursor program to many modern corporate ombuds functions. Several salient points and recommendations offer useful guidance to today’s programs, and those who authorize the function.

  • “Prepared to be Valuable: Positioning Ombuds Programs,” Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, April 2014

    by Andrea Schenck and John W. Zinsser | Seminal statement of the leading-edge vision that aligned, embedded, and integrated (AEI) ombuds programs ensure maximum program usage, value return and program sustainability.

  • Making a World of Difference: Personal Leadership, 2008

    by Barbara F. Schaetti, Sheila J. Ramsey, and Gordon C. Watanabe | Drawing from their expertise in intercultural communications, the authors’ developed a methodology that harnesses ambiguity and curiosity in order to identify a vivid direction. Useful references and applications, particularly for multicultural work teams or working in contexts with multiple variables and unknowns.

  • “Manage Conflict with Help of Organizational Ombudsmen,” Medical Staff Briefing, April 2009

    Edited by Erin E. Callahan | The specialized context and work of hospitals calls for advanced conflict management. The hospital accrediting body, The Joint Commission recognized the conflict benefit and authored a Standard (LD.02.04.01), which requires a conflict management capacity. This article, interviewing John W. Zinsser, outlines how an ombuds program meets the standard and returns special contributions to healthcare institutions.

  • “Systems for Dealing with Conflict and Learning from Conflict— Options for Complaint-Handling: An Illustrative Case,” Harvard Negotiation Law Review, 2009 

    by Brian Bloch, David Miller, and Mary Rowe | How an ombuds acts and advances a situation is virtually always invisible to those not involved. Via a hypothetical case the article offers a sightline on the tactics | strategies employed to move an issue forward. The breadth and complexity of the ombuds’ work and how benefit is brought out of conflict, for both the individual and the organization, comes clear.

  • The Laws of Simplicity, 2006

    by John Maeda | How often have you asked how to make schedules, meetings, tasks, days, more simple? Seems simplicity is wickedly complex. Not for Maeda. Drawing on design, philosophy, and neuro-science, this 100-page book offers important tools and stratagems to put simplicity within reach.

  • The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles, and Operations — A Legal Guide, 2010

    by Charles L. Howard | Other books introduce and discuss organizational ombudsman programs, but Howard’s book is the first comprehensive text to outline the history, evolution and legalities of this conflict management function. Numerous examples present how organizations realize increased and greater compliance because ombuds programs enable employees, of all levels, to safely raise issues and concerns that otherwise go ignored, until for some, the topic became front page news. Included is an example of Pacifica’s ROI estimate for an ombuds program. An attorney, Howard also writes extensively about the various related legal issues and what is necessary to protect ombudsman confidentiality.

  • The Silent Language, 1959

    by Edward T. Hall | Thousands of times a day, we communicate without uttering a word, flexing a facial muscle or writing a symbol. We unconsciously utilize tools such as time and space to link meanings with those with whom we work, live, or simply pass in the street. Understanding the ways we connect and separate from others through culturally developed agreements opens a highly useful and practical language available to all.


Increasingly, people are talking about ombuds programs (even though it’s still an awkward word for some to pronounce). Pacifica is excited to answer questions and discuss the most beneficial conflict management tool— AEI ombuds programs. Listen or read these exchanges for insights to gain what you need. If it’s not there, connect with us OR ask at

  • “Dealing with Discord, Time for a Different Approach?” Altman Weil’s Report To Legal Management, 2009

    Douglas B. Richardson interviewed John W. Zinsser to advance law firm managing partners and COOs thinking on how ombuds programs would advance and benefit the specialized workplace of large law firms.

  • “How Can You Calculate the ROI of an Organizational Ombudsman Office,” The Conflict Specialist Show, 2014

    Dave Hilton asks John W. Zinsser the question most on corporate leaders’ minds about ombuds programs, “How do we determine and share the actual value created?” The value returned will likely surprise you.

  • “Ombudsing in Athletics,” SCI TV, 2014

    Joshua Gordon and John Zinsser explore how organizational ombuds programs can be tuned to meet special challenges. They discuss how professional sports leagues and intercollegiate athletic programs fail to manage conflicts grabbing the headlines, costing money and damaging the reputations of individuals and organizations. Zinsser describes how aligned, embedded, and integrated ombuds programs would change the game.

  • “The Role of the Ombudsman,” WKCR 89.9 Columbia University Radio, 2014

    Host Beth Fisher-Yoshida interviews John Zinsser about the advantages an organizational ombuds offers and the essentials an ombuds program needs to be beneficial to employers.

POVs That Inspire

One’s perspective is both a limitation and asset. Communicating other points of view benefits all our worlds. Here are two talks to inspire.

Pressure to meet a deliverable; Personalities and politics; and Discomfort with uncertainty about how someone will react are just a few of the factors that limit how a job gets done. Most companies don’t evaluate how much these conflicts disrupt business. Margaret Heffernan’s June 2012 TEDGlobal, Dare to Disagree outlines why it is worthwhile to manage conflict. An ombuds program is a cost-effective and beneficial way to do so.

Dare to Disagree | Margaret Heffernan | TEDGlobal, June 2012

Companies that live their values experience significantly less misconduct. According to a 2013 HR Magazine cover story, only 20 percent of workers reported seeing misconduct in those companies where ethical cultures are “strong,” compared with 88 percent who saw wrong-doing in companies with the weakest cultures. 

The strong, collaborative culture at Mars, Inc. makes it a great place to work. In her keynote at the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference, Chairman Victoria B. Mars shared her pride in having been the first Mars ombudsman. She outlined what she gains, by having the program. The Ombudsman Program serves Mars’ open culture, which is founded upon the Five Principles, by providing an alternative communication channel for those Associates who want to confidentially consider concerns or issues. With a direct line to the CEO, the Ombudsman Program raises trends in order to help leaders address challenges. This benefits everyone.

Keynote for the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference | Victoria B. Mars | Chairman, Mars, Incorporated


Others of Interest

Following are six links to organizations with something to add.

  • Columbia University Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
    Masters of Science program offering pragmatic approaches and professional development including Fundamentals of Ombudsing and Advanced Ombudsing, developed and taught by John W. Zinsser. 
  • Ethics Resource Center
    Ninety years of independent policy efforts and research, including the National Business Ethics Survey, that advances high ethical standards in public and private organizations. Data!

  • Intercultural Press
    Want information on how to work well with and within other cultures? Here is the source; from theory to practice and Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe.
  • International Ombudsman Association
    Primary association for organizational ombudsmen that promotes standards, training, and collegiality. 

  • Summer Institute for Intercultural Communications
    A unique opportunity to explore, advance and and network with professionals in intercultural communications working in education, business, and consulting, in both international and domestic intercultural contexts. Stimulating and supportive. 
  • The Ombuds Blog
    The hub for up-to-date information, announcements, and more regarding organizational ombuds programs. Extensive lists of programs in six different sectors. Invaluable.

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