Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Business Meetings

Business Meetings

My initial reaction was that perhaps Begeman meant to illustrate the difference between xenophobic and/or emotional decisions and more inclusive logic or rational decision-making. We can learn from the Dances with Wolves segment that the brash and reactive decisions sought by young braves are not always the same as wiser and older Chiefs. The video could also be used to explore the variety of possible responses to a newcomer (or new idea) displayed by an entrenched group or popular status quo:

  • Repel or harm out of fear and uncertainty?
  • Leave alone or act nonchalant? Do nothing?
  • Or engage and learn to seek mutual interests?

Well we both agree that a good meeting should take place in a comfortable environment. The teepee is a familiar and comfortable place for a meeting. I am astounded by how many uncomfortable office chairs I have had to sit in during meetings. However I felt 20-30 members is a little large. While we both identified genuine disagreements need to be acknowledged I felt some of the young brave’s posturing was for the benefit of displaying a power position in front of the group and perhaps revealing some of their own fearful desires as well. The Chief represented the moderator and final arbitrator and judge of good behaviour among all meeting members. We both seem to agree the Dances with Wolves discussion is a meeting for action.

However that decisive action first goes undecided and deferred by experience and moderation (The Chief) while innocence sought a quick and bloody resolution (The Young Brave) appears to be the learning point for me. Most meetings I have attended are usually brief at all of five to ten minutes to resolve small issues, problems or complaints that arise fairly infrequently in my work. I rarely meet with my bosses in fact about twice a semester for one formal and one more informal dinner at the beginning and end of terms. As a result they are remarkably likeable bosses. It is a form of reaffirmation that we are all on the same team and they are very light on my reins. Student meetings are more frequent during office hours one at a time or in small groups possibly about ten to twenty a week. At times these are just pleasure visits for tea or coffee or to discuss homework responses and/or some other trifle.

I teach an intermediate global negotiation class (15 to 20 students) and this kind of video coupled with the article which could be given as a form of case study pre-reading with comprehension questions (four or five) would be good followed by class discussion particularly in exploring negotiators toolkit approaches to agenda setting, exploring positions versus interests, reciprocity, equitable sharing of rewards, etc. There are several short and easy to read tips in the article which my students could probably handle as a homework reading assignment for large group and small group discussion or presentation in class. Topics could be: three most useful points, best point, a general points list, points we most agree with, points we disagree with, etc. I think to follow up I would ask students to attempt to find video clips examples from famous Chinese or Korean movies that display a similar meetings and consensus-based decisions process most commonly employed by Asian coworkers. Alternatively I could provide the students with the Australia Network’s video from 4.3 and ask them to compare/contrast the meeting process reviewed there and that of either Dances with Wolves or some of the recommendations made by Begeman. In the past I have used short video clips of Gunsmoke or similar to illustrate the differences in power positions and their influence on bargaining as well as concessions or difficulty of anchoring positions.

Question to the class: What similar short video resources can you recommend for teaching a basic negotiation class? I have a collection of short warm up activities on hand but find relevant video challenging to find.

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