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This is what saved a $10 million contract

Ever have a relationship go so south you couldn't have a conversation on the phone without it escalating into yelling? This is a story about a non-profit who had a falling out with a funding partner and a $10 million dollar contract that was on the line!

What was the opportunity for growth?

This non-profit was in a panic. Their funding partner had pulled the plug on a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that the non-profit had already invested almost $200,000 towards. Meanwhile, they had an existing $10 million contract they needed to fulfill, but every conversation between the funding partner and non-profit turned into a yelling match. 

The funding partner was flying to town for a face-to-face meeting with the hopes of finding a way forward. This meeting represented a critical juncture in their relationship. The non-profit no longer trusted the funding partner yet was obligated to fulfill their existing contract. This lack of trust made it hard to have a constructive conversation. Luckily, the non-profit was aware that they needed expert help to ensure this meeting was productive.  

How did we help?

We were brought in to help facilitate the meeting using our Co-Creating Retreat Experience process. We engaged in a discovery phase where we interviewed both the non-profit and the funding partner to gain their perspective about the situation. We quickly found that while they were at odds, there was alignment between their needs and concerns.

We then engaged in the design phase where we worked with both the non-profit and the funding partner to craft a meeting plan that met both their needs. At their request, we advised both parties on how to prepare for the meeting to elevate the quality of their conversations by providing neurotips.

During the meeting, we applied the neuroscience of conversation to how we facilitated. To start the meeting, we primed for trust in order to bridge the divide between both parties. We kept the conversation focused and on point, while allowing the discussion to evolve. The organic, yet focused nature of the meeting allowed for win-win solutions to be found.

What happened as a result?

By helping both parties prepare for a constructive meeting and getting the oxytocin flowing early on we were able to have a productive conversation that exceeded both of their expectations.

The funding partner rebuilt trust by openly sharing more about what was happening internally and why they pulled the plug on the other project. They offered a sincere and unexpected apology.

We were able to guide them to find a mutually agreeable way forward for fulfilling their existing $10 million contract. And we did that all without their lawyers having to enter the room; we avoided litigation and paved the way for the non-profit to be eligible for additional 7-8 figure grants from this funding partner. And what's best of all, they stopped yelling at each other on the phone!

What did the client have to say about it?

"I wanted to say thank you...for your great work with the strategic meeting on Tuesday. We feel it was more successful and constructive than any of us had hoped it would be, and your work was a large part of that."

- Program Grants Manager

"The first thing that...[our partner] said to me when I sat down at dinner on Tues night was that it was a great idea to hire Ariana! THANK YOU! We knew this would be a tough couple of days, which it was. You helped guide use and diffuse the tension. The meetings were productive and we are (cautiously) more optimistic for the future! Wonderful work. Thank you."


What's your takeaway?

Share your reflections and how this story resonates with your own personal experiences.

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