One can expect only the finest teachings from Harvard University, but something is brewing in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Prof. Robert H. Mnookin, the chairman of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, along with other colleagues, has spent the past year-and-a-half developing video lectures featuring some of the world’s leading experts in negotiation.
The full video series plans to be used for the first time this coming April in Israel during a three-day joint workshop organized by Harvard and Technion- Israel Institute of Technology.
The workshop attracts business leaders, executives, managing directors and others from both the private and public sectors. It is for those interested in more effectively managing conflict and communicating to build stronger relationships with business partners and their surrounding communities.
The Program on Negotiation was established in 1983 as a consortium program between Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.
Its mission is to advance the study and practice of negotiation and dispute resolution. As one of the largest university-based programs in the world, PON is bringing its program on April 4-6 to the Technion’s Sarona Campus in Tel Aviv in collaboration with the Technion- Azrieli Continuing Education and External Studies Division.
This fusion of learning programs consists of lectures, simulations, conferences with faculty, as well as videos.
This hands-on approach offers a more pragmatic learning style catered to an Israeli audience.
Mnookin explained the program as an “interuniversity consortium” with faculty from a wide array of disciplines including law, economics and business.
“Our commitment is to improve the theory and practice of negotiation,” he said.
He further commented on the diversity of PON’s participants.
“Some are lawyers who would prefer alternative dispute resolution to the risks of litigation,” he said. “Others manage family businesses or are on the leadership team of multinational corporations. Many are elected officials or come from government agencies, including defense, commerce, labor, education, health and human services, and foreign policy. We also have many participants who work in the nonprofit world, from large international relief agencies to a small community social service agency.”
PON often carries out workshops at Harvard Law School. With a 40-percent pool of participants coming from overseas, Mnookin felt compelled to bring the workshop to the rest of the world.
“Israel is really the first place we’re putting on this program called PON Global. The idea was to make what we teach available to more people around the world. We are going to take our flagship course and break it down into modules and have our very best instructors create video tapes of a portion for what we do at Harvard. We will combine that with exercises and instructions that we’re going to be offering on site,” he said.
“The reason we chose the Technion in Israel is because Israel is a hi-tech economy where Israeli firms, all the time, are negotiating joint ventures and they’re doing deals all over the world. We hope there will be some real interest in being able to get Harvard here rather than going over to Cambridge.”
The goal is to bring in a local familiar with PON who can help cater the workshop to an Israeli audience. Samuel Dinnar, the on-site instructor, has been trained by PON and is expected to be leading the assimilation exercises and further working with students to debrief them.
“In this way, what we hope to give people here in Israel is all the best instruction we have to offer. They’re going to be exposed to the thinking of half a dozen of our very best teachers who are going to be talking with them via a video,” Mnookin said.
The workshop has been broken up into six modules. Some topics to be discussed include creating vs claiming value; negotiating across cultures; multiparty negotiations; and organizational challenges. Mnookin describes the program as “active learning.”
He explains, “this isn’t like a massage where we’re going to do it to them. They’re going to have to actively participate by doing simulations. Everyday they’ll do at least two simulations.”
This workshop is an extraction of the best of Harvard Law School.
“What we want to do is to provide you with some concepts and theories but then give you an exercise where you play a role.”
The combination of video series and exercises where attendees will have to role play induces a very realistic learning style that best mimics real-life scenarios.
This approach to teaching the material paves the way for education through experience rather than education through lectures.
This joint workshop with the Technion is just the beginning of a greater mission to bring quality, active learning on negotiation to the rest of the world.
Hoping to establish partnerships with universities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, PON continues to establish itself as a forerunner in education on negotiation.
In an even greater sense, these workshops will be deconstructed by locals who can personalize the teachings to its audience.
“What I’ve have found enormously exciting and stimulating is to develop these ideas and use them to help solve real world problems,” Mnookin remarked.
And his prominent presence in the field of negotiation truly speaks to that.
Mnookin’s newest book is Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight. Pertaining to an audience that exceeds those in just the business realm, the book walks through real-life scenarios of people who have been in this predicament, including Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. Mnookin analyzes their decision of whether or not to negotiate.
The book explores the idea of dealing with people who have hurt us in the past or people whom we feel may hurt us.
Mnookin explains, “in our conflicts we all often want justice. And justice is backwards- looking in the sense that we want to right a wrong that was done to us in the past... but the dilemma is you’re not going to achieve perfect justice anymore and giving up that desire is at time painful.”
When do you negotiate? Not always but more often than you think, as explained by Mnookin.
This underlying theme will be further delved into during the three-day workshop.
This is attractive not only in the sense that it will be taught by world-class professors but also in the innovative learning techniques. The active learning approach, with informative videos followed by exercises and debriefings molded to attendees, further upholds PON’s global status and its mission to advance the study and theory of negotiation.
“When we learn to negotiate effectively...we are more likely to find hidden opportunities to create value, and more apt to help forge lasting agreements. At the Program on Negotiation, we have honored and learned from many great negotiators, including former US secretaries of state, a former president of Finland, UN envoys and a number of other diplomats, and universally they emphasize how being able to deploy a range of negotiation skills has enabled them to be effective in some of the world’s most intractable conflicts,” he said.