“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Who we are
We are skilful and independent dispute resolvers, based in Melbourne, Australia.
What we do
We provide exceptionally efficient, cost-effective solutions for most types of issue, problem, challenge, disagreement, dispute or conflict - whatever the size, sensitivity, or complexity of the problem.
We work with private individuals, couples, families, family businesses, ordinary businesses, professional practices, large businesses, and organisations of all types.
How we work
We cut the costs of conflict (time, effort, damage and expense), rather than escalate battles, by de-constructing situations into their component parts: real issues and causes.
We then facilitate problem solving, mediate agreements, or determine (decide) fair and practical outcomes.
Why we do it
We like helping individuals, families, businesses and organisations to solve their problems - and we’re very good at it!
Our Philosophy: Solutionism
We believe that every disagreement, dispute or conflict should be treated as a problem to be solved, rather than as a battle to be fought, and that optimal solutions can always be developed - provided the parties are genuinely committed to working on solutions.
We call this philosophy “Solutionism”.
Experience and Skills
We’ve spent over 30 years consulting, advising, and resolving disputes in thousands of conflicted situations, with a huge range of parties - from private individuals to multi-national organisations.
Extensive financial, commercial, legal, accounting and business consulting competencies have been combined with innovative problem solving, lateral thinking, negotiation, facilitation, mediation and dispute resolution skills, to service assignments including:
Facilitation: many, many, many difficult conversations.
Contract Facilitation: independent experts - making things work as they should.
Family Mediation: from separating couples to business families.
Family Business Mediation: we’ve (almost) seen and done it all!
Commercial Mediation: you name it, we’ve either done it, or something like it.
Expert Determination: complex contractual and financial disputes.
Commercial Arbitration: complex contractual and financial disputes.
Institutional / organisational dispute resolution systems: reviews and re-designs.
Succession and Transition planning, facilitation and implementation.
Why use us?
In most dispute or conflict situations we will deliver better results, more quickly and less expensively, than almost anybody else.
All of our work is value and values-driven, and client-focused.
No surprises. Everybody knows what to expect, and where things stand, from start to end.
Contact us now for an obligation free discussion of your needs!
Jon Kenfield LLB CA FRI FFBI MBO
Solutionist, Arbitrator, Mediator, Expert and Facilitator.
Presenter and Trainer.
Author: “Solutionist Guide to Family Business” (360 pages).
Qualifications & Work Experience
Qualifications and Work Experience (download full CV)
I’m a Master Solutionist; Chartered Accountant; Grade 1 Arbitrator; Advanced Mediator; Superlative Facilitator; Agile Adviser and Family Business Adviser.
I have an honours degree in law, and have been a chartered accountant (forensic specialist) for over 30 years. I’ve been a principal/director in two of the “Big 4” firms. I’m also a qualified teacher, scuba diving instructor and oil rig diver.
I’ve developed and delivered programs for many years on: communication, negotiation, facilitation and mediation; values & visioning; problem solving & decision making; succession planning & business continuity; leadership and family business best practice.
As any law graduate would: I became a scuba instructor and safari guide in the Red Sea; then an adventure travel and wildlife photo-journalist based in London; then a developer and promoter of worldwide adventure travel programs and finally, an underwater photographer on the oil rigs of the North and Java Seas.
After 5 years of excitement I returned to England, qualified as a chartered accountant and then went overseas to work for Deloitte in Africa (Zambia and Zimbabwe).
From Africa, I came with wife Sara and our 1.6 children (child #2 was a sandgroper), to Australia, where I settled in Perth, re-joined Deloitte, and established Australia’s first major forensic accounting and dispute resolution practice. Deloitte eventually shifted me to Melbourne, to establish a national forensic practice.
When courts started getting serious about Dispute Resolution, I left mainstream accounting to establish Dispute Solutions: providing innovative services to parties who wanted practical solutions, rather than pitched battles and enormous fees.
Interests and Pastimes
My interests include books, writing and films. My passions (outside work and family) are underwater and wildlife photography, fly fishing and travel. These provide plenty of scope for an ever-expanding bucket list of things to do!
My book, “The Solutionist Guide to Family Business”, is widely regarded as the definitive “how to” Australian text for operating a prosperous family business AND having a harmonious family. It draws heavily on many years of facilitation and conflict management experience, especially with business families.
Diving with son Mark, at Heron Island.
“Jon managed an exceedingly challenging arbitration process where, as a small business owner, I was opposed to a large company that formed part of a US-owned group. They used a leading law firm, and expensive barristers, to take a highly aggressive approach that attempted to intimidate me out of my rights, when I just wanted them to work with me to resolve some seriously costly issues they’d created.
Jon managed aggressive counsel with calm good humour and an unshakable process discipline that went a long way towards keeping us on the playing field (it was never a “level” field!) until we achieved a sensible, commercial, enforceable outcome through his directions and decisions as an arbitrator.
I can’t say I’d ever want to go through a similar process again, but as an alternative to litigation (which I could neither have afforded, nor participated in) it was as good a process as I could have wished for. I recommend Dispute Solutions to anybody who finds themselves in a serious dispute that requires serious management.”
Family Farm Mediation
“I was involved in a ghastly dispute over our 4th generation family farm. My husband’s health was failing, and our 3 children were at each other’s throats. I despaired of ever regaining a normal life.
Jon facilitated discussions, and mediated endless flashpoints of dispute between 3 generations of family members, until we ended up making decisions, and producing an agreement, we could all live with. I still don’t know how, but he saved our family, and the family farm.
Months later I was moaning to a friend about the cost of getting things resolved. He gave me a hard stare before explaining that, many years previously, his family hadn’t taken the right steps, everybody “lawyered up” and the end result was that the farm they were fighting over had to be sold just to cover the legal fees. His family was destroyed and has never reconciled. “Whatever it cost was cheap!” he said."
Business Family Conflict
"I was going through my archived emails this morning and I came across this, our last communication from you from nearly 18 months ago. It reminded me of how much work you put into trying to mediate our family situation, and your warnings to us all, should either party decide to abandon the process.
It will come as no surprise to you to learn that after nearly 18 months we have only just now settled the matter - following 12 months of lawyers’ fees, court appearances and the commencement of a trial that ended in settlement on day one, immediately after our own barrister's opening statement.
Ultimately, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get only what we originally asked for, and the family has been irreparably broken in the process. It's been horrendous.
Now that it’s all over and the dust can start to settle, I do want to pass on our appreciation for your immeasurable efforts in delving into and sorting through the challenges that our family were facing two years ago. Unfortunately, our family were inflexible when flexibility was required, arrogant when humility was needed, and unforgiving when forgiveness was called for.
I have occasionally seen your Facebook posts and thought that you'd written those pieces specifically about our family! On the one hand, I'm glad we are not alone, but it also makes me sad to think that other families are possibly going through the pain that we suffered.
If this message helps just one of them to avoid the same catastrophe, something positive will be achieved."
4th Generation Business Succession
"JZ: We engaged Jon to help transition our 3rd generation family business, to the 4th generation. He helped us to professionalise our operations and strengthen our family dynamics. Then he helped to launch us towards our next 88 years!
PZ: As someone who’s worked in the family business for their whole life, the idea of succession was very challenging. Jon helped us to understand succession as an opportunity to renew and refresh our business, and to strengthen family ties. What started out feeling like a scary proposition became a family business project that brought us closer together."
JZ & PZ, Melbourne
Code of Professional Practice
We will always:
Approach each engagement with an open mind and a firm commitment to produce best possible outcomes for all stakeholders.
Provide the best and most appropriate advice we can conceive, regardless of our own interests.
Work collaboratively with other advisers, to the maximum extent possible.
Maintain client confidentiality.
Disclose any conflicts of interest as soon as they become apparent.
Behave with honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and reliability in all professional and business dealings.
Provide maximum transparency throughout every engagement.
Accept responsibility for our performance, and accountability for our results.
Keep learning - through study, collaboration, reflection and the generous sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience with other dispute resolvers and advisers.
We respect and protect the privacy of our visitors, subscribers and users and will not disclose any information that identifies you individually to any third party, unless we have your written permission to do so.
We may ask you for personal information, including your name and email address, when you request services from us (eg: downloads of materials, receipt of newsletter etc). We use this information to help ensure that the right things go to the right people, and to help us work out what you want, so we can continuously improve our services.
If we intend to use your personal information to contact you for any purpose (eg: for future information and/or marketing purposes), we’ll tell you up front so you can decide whether or not you’re happy to provide us with that information.
If you change your mind or details at some future stage we’ll correct, update or remove your personal data, on your request.
Policy Regarding Children
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No information should be submitted to us, or posted by visitors under 18 years of age, without the consent of their parent or legal guardian.
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