WE’LL HAVE TO TRAVEL A LONG WAY TO FIND
A MORE INSPIRING LEAP! ER THAN THE GETTING TO YES  GENIUS, ROGER FISHER

The Harvard law professor had a passion and a knack for getting involved in complicated, often irrational big-time disputes, often without even being invited. His son, Elliott, says his father would just assume that the warring parties needed his help and off he went. “Our sense growing up was that he would read the newspaper and think, ‘Oh, shoot, there is something to fix.’ ” the younger Elliott told The New York Times the other day. In Peru in 1997, Fisher somehow managed to contact president Alberto Fujimori and counsel him on how to handle negotiations when a rebel group took hostages at the Japanese Embassy in Lima. This episode didn’t have a perfect storybook ending (all but one of the 72 hostages were rescued alive but all 14 hostages takers were eventually killed). But Fisher’s optimistic, even-keel, can-do approach to recasting difficult situations proved helpful in ending apartheid in South Africa, producing the Camp David accord between Egypt and Israel and furthering the summit meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. Fisher’s commonsensical “making the LEAP!” techniques in Getting to Yes led to the sale of millions of copies of the book in 36 languages, and Fisher’s PBS program, “The Advocates”, ran for years, again demonstrating his skills at getting things to the next level. In my new book, LEAP!, I talk on pages 34 and 35 about how the kind of thinking qualities that Rogert Fisher lived writ large characterize the way the dolphinthinker responds in the world. “Dolphinthinkers are nothing if not fiercely pragmatic. Kicking the can further down the road is simply not one of their instinctive responses.” I suggests this: “If there is anything implacable . . . in the dolphinthinker’s personality, it is the assumption that there is a world out there that is best attended to in timely fashion.” I think Roger Fisher would have agreed. Fisher died at age 90 on September 8 from the complications of dementia. His Times obituary is here.

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