Negotiating in the Colorado Mountains

One of my roles as a faculty member to the Telluride Patient Safety Student and Resident Physician Summer Camps is to conduct a three-hour workshop on principles and strategies of negotiation.  The camps, after all, have a strong focus on the power of effective communication in reducing patient harm.  Negotiations occur all the time in clinical settings–between residents and nurses, between nurses and attendings, between clinical staff and patients and families–and our faculty leader Dave Mayer has asked me to provide some insights about negotiation to the students.
As I have noted on the Athenahealth Leadership Forum:
People who are likely to be the future leaders of health care institutions in America and abroad often come to me for career and training advice. My constant refrain is to learn the principles and framework of negotiation strategy. Negotiation can be defined as means of satisfying parties’ underlying interests by jointly decided action. You cannot be a leader if you do not know how to help a hospital’s constituencies understand that their interests are coincident with the purpose of your organization and if you cannot help them jointly decide on the actions needed to carry out that purpose. 

The Telluride workshop is a highly interactive session in which the students participate in negotiation simulations, followed by a debriefing of the results they achieve.  It is by comparing the disparate results from the same fact pattern that enable us to tease how what is effective and what is not effective in a negotiation.

There’s one particular “negotiation” I like to conduct during the workshop.  I auction off a $10 bill, with the condition that both the winning bidder and the second place bidder have to pay me the amount of their bid, but only the top bidder wins the $10.  Here’s a lovely summary of this game, offered by Derek, one of the participants, along with the lessons her learned.

Here are some of the students in action during one of the other exercises.