Potato processing effluent discharging into Crystal River ———————— see story below

UPDATE (Sept 19/17): This event is virtually identical to what we did for Cyberweek 2016 except that you will now be playing against a robot instead of a “Mechanical Turk”**, and there are now more cases to choose from. This will help you quickly learn how Smartsettle works with different strategies. Recruit your friends to see who can get the best scores. The goal of this event is to demonstrate the benefits of a collaborative negotiating style.


This event was originally hosted by ADRhub at Creighton University who brought the dispute resolution community together at Cyberweek 2016 (Oct 31 – Nov 4).

How to test drive Smartsettle ONE:

1. Watch the video posted on the Smartsettle ONE home page and then sign up there with your own email address. You might start with fictitious profile data but if you plan to use it for your real cases you should put in real data.

2. Each of the hypothetical cases listed below have been set up by a facilitator complete with negotiating ranges based on discussions with the parties. You may choose one after you sign in.

3. Sign in and create a new practice negotiation case – the Smartsettle Robot will be automatically invited to be your opponent.

4. Choose one of the following templates to determine your competitor negotiation style:

  • Collaborative: Expect your opponent to make an early reasonable effort to settle. They should be keen to move quickly and firmly to a fair solution that satisfies both parties. Expect fair outcomes by playing collaborative against collaborative.
  • Competitive: Your opponent is mostly interested in their own agenda. They will seem stingy by moving slowly to fair but will be reasonable by Final Session. Expect better than fair by playing collaborative against competitive.
  • Avoidant: Your stolid opponent is indifferent to your concerns and has little desire to negotiate with you. They move very slowly and do not reach fair. Expect an impasse if you hold your ground. Recover a good deal by agreeing to the Expert Neutral Decider.

5. Feel free to converse with your opponent but you will find that the robot is not very talkative. The negotiating styles are really fixed in this demonstration and no amount of persuasion will change the robot’s mind. Your task is to get the best outcome you can under those circumstances. If no deal is reached in Final Session then you may choose to have the Expert Neutral Decider  (END) settle the matter.

6. At the end of each negotiation, download a PDF that records the agreement and use it to prove how well you did.

7. Play as many times as you like and learn the following:

  • the best strategy with Smartsettle is to be collaborative (moving early to fair).
  • collaboration on the part of both sides quickly results in satisfying outcomes, and
  • that an unreasonable opponent is no problem with the Smartsettle Expert Neutral Decider.

8. Let us know how it goes, whether you get stuck or not.

9. After doing at least one practice case you will be able to invite others to negotiate real cases with you.

Case I: George & Jill Spousal Support

George and Jill are separating, and planning on an amicable divorce. They are discussing how much spousal support George should pay to Jill, and are trying to take advantage of online resources and precedent, so as to try to stay friendly, and avoid a long, drawn out, and highly emotional process. They will use Smartsettle ONE to negotiate the exact amount of Spousal Support. Through some online research, they’ve agreed that the low end of Spousal Support would be $500, while the high end would be $900/month. This range is based on their incomes but Jill points out that her monthly expenses will be about 50% higher than George’s so it would be fair to settle on the high end of this range.

You will play Jill.

Case II: Fred & Sue Equalization Payment

Fred and Sue have been married for ten years on a large hobby farm and have no debts owing. Unfortunately, they have decided that they must separate. Sue did not work outside the home, nor did she attend school during their marriage. Sue is not asking for a share of Fred’s pension, which would be worth $2000/mo in five years. Instead, Sue wants the largest possible share of their $2 million property so that she can buy her own place. George and Sue will use Smartsettle ONE to negotiate the percentage of property value that will go to Sue.

You will play Fred.

Case III: Antique Car Buyer avoids the Small Claims Court

Brenda Buyer bought an antique car from Carla’s Classics on the condition that it would be in perfect working condition. The next day after it was delivered the transmission stopped working. These transmissions are very rare. The median value of three quotes to replace the transmission is $15,000. It’s not clear in this case who is responsible.

The policy of Carla’s Classic is to settle any disputes with Smartsettle ONE. Brenda has heard that Smartsettle ONE is a quick, easy and fair way to settle. Brenda believes that there is a very good chance of a generous settlement.
You will play Brenda.

Case IV: Birthday Widget arrives too Late

John ordered a birthday present for his wife from WidgetCo just across the line. He spent $960. The Widget arrived two weeks later than promised and John was upset. WidgetCo said that they had tried to contact John about the possible delay. John claims that he did not receive any such notice from WidgetCo and wants his money back – maybe more because this caused him a lot of grief. John knows that cross-border disputes are more difficult. But the good news is that WidgetCo has a policy of resolving their disputes using Smartsettle ONE. This will make the process a lot easier. If no deal is reached in Final Session then the Expert Neutral Decider  (END) will settle the matter.

You will play John. John has heard that Smartsettle ONE is very credible. He considers his BATNA to be near zero without this process but expects to get a substantial amount of his money back if he agrees to the END process in case of no deal in Final Session. John would be extremely pleased if he gets back half of what he paid.

Case V: Crystal River Pollution Cleanup


The Fortunate French-Fry Company needs to reach an agreement with the Crystal River Potato Farmers Cooperative on what percentage of its processing needs will be met by recycled water. The Cooperative say they will be forced to stop farming if the number is less than 30%, while the Company has indicated they will move out of the area if they are required to recycle more than 75%.

Background Information

The farmers of the Crystal River Potato Farmers Cooperative were thrilled when an international company with a good environmental record opened a potato-processing facility a short distance up the Crystal River. The company saw that it could get a ready supply of good-quality potatoes nearby, and the location was well-placed to ship the product to nearby countries. Prices to the farmers increased, and the factory employed some of their children who had previously had trouble finding work.

The discharge water from the processing plant was highly treated and potable. However, after a few years, the farmers realized that the higher level of dissolved salts was risking the viability of their land, while algae blooms caused by excessive phosphates were clouding the crystal waters of the river. Potato productivity dropped, threatening the farmer’s livelihood. Despite the best intentions, tempers rose. Some threatened to shut down the factory, while others realized that losing a local processor and employer could threaten the very existence of the community.

Fortunately, the two sides received assistance from an international NGO specializing in mediated solutions to complex environmental problems. After much debate, the two sides reached an agreement that included the development of a water-recycling subsystem within the factory. Instead of simply using and treating the water, the factory would be required to feed a percentage of the discharge water back into its own process. In this way, they would be forced to reduce the quantity of dissolved solids in the effluent or the build-up would damage their own equipment.

An independent environmental engineer’s report showed that the problem could be reduced by recycling a portion of the water.  Recycling below 30% would produce marginal returns for the farmers and the cost of recycling more than 75% of the factory’s needs would make the factory nonviable. Between those two limits, there may still be some concerns, but they can be mitigated through careful management of water for irrigation, and by planting a native grass along eroded parts of the riverbank. The Farmers have privately agreed that their BATNA is 25%. Below 25%, degradation of the land and river would continue and they would be better off cutting their losses and looking for another market for their potatoes.

However, the parties are optimistic that they can agree on how much water to recycle and have agreed to use Smartsettle ONE to negotiate the value. Until the recycling facility is complete and the operating parameters decided, the Company has reduced production. The lower revenues are hurting the Company, while the Cooperative is earning less for its crops and extra employment has been curtailed.

If an agreement is not reached in Final Session, and both parties agree, the problem will be solved with Smartsettle’s Expert Neutral Decider (END) using the opinion of an expert committee made up of the environmental engineer, the NGO CEO and the local mayor. It seems that most opinions on what is fair range between 50% and 60%.

You will play the role of the Farmers.


Potato processing water to be recycled (%)

Read more about Smartsettle ONE here.

** The Turk was a chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854 it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was eventually revealed to be an elaborate hoax. The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine.