The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: Problem Solving, Decision Making and Negotiation with John Burwell Garvey

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.
During the seventh week of MLDP, we explored the nuances of problem solving, decision-making, and negotiation. John Burwell Garvey, Professor and Director of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the UNH School of Law guided us through a series of scenarios in which we learned how personal qualities and motivations can affect decision-making. For example, I learned fairness was more important to me than competition.

Before we began the last activity, Professor Garvey highlighted the importance for negotiations to be “a back and forth agreement with both shared and opposed interests.” Professor Garvey then guided our group through a simulation in which we tested our problem solving skills in three stages: as individuals, in small groups, and in larger groups. In the scenario, we crash-landed on the moon and needed to travel in search for help. Initially, we were expected to prioritize the few items we had. The task proved to be very difficult when we realized we had a lack of information, which is the first requirement in decision-making. While the second stage of the activity tested our organizational skills, the last portion of the scenario challenged our ability to persuade others. Soon after addressing our opposing group, we realized we needed to define our goal before beginning a negotiation. We also practiced how physical dynamics such as tone of voice and physical stance can inform negotiations. Though we achieved our goal by the end of the activity, Professor Garvey reminded us that “we can never correctly guess the outcome unless [we] are the only ones negotiating.” Overall, Professor Garvey taught us the importance of details in problem solving, decision making and negotiation.
- Written by Ayaan Roble '14

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences