Exactly a week and a day before my last day at PON. I had to do some pretty intense planning last week to make sure that I’d be able to finish everything that I want to get done before I go back to school.
One of the projects I’m trying to finish up in the next week or so is writing a new case for the Negotiation Workshop. It’s one of the most challenging – and coolest – projects I’ve worked on here. I just regret that I wasn’t able to start the writing process earlier, because overall it’s much more involved than I anticipated.
The proposed case would involve an agreement between two countries about how to compensate surgeons in one country for operating on patients from the other. This was a real-life negotiation, which makes things slightly easier, but there are still a tremendous number of questions that I have about how to structure the case. As fun as it is thinking up storylines and brainstorming about the parties’ interests, after re-reading my initial draft of the confidentials, I found massive holes in terms of information. It suddenly became clear that I needed to include many more criteria if the situation was going to be realistic. I’m clearly no expert on the ins and outs of surgery reimbursement. But neither will be the Negotiation Workshop students who actually engage in the negotiation, so it’s a constant struggle trying to balance technical details and accuracy with the need to make the role comprehensible to non-surgeons.
In a way, this is one of my first tastes of the world of teaching. I’ve done a little of the stand-in-front-of-the-classroom side of things, but actually writing course materials is truly uncharted territory for me – and it’s hard! Apart from there being a million things to incorporate (lesson objectives, criteria for an agreement, realistic details, some wittiness and humor would be nice…), the process itself is different than simply writing a report. It’s less linear. Instead of the sequential process of doing research and then writing up the roles; it’s more like, first do some research, then start constructing the roles, then go back and fill in the inevitable information holes (which involves more research), then revise the roles, then actually write up the confidential instructions… and finally make sure everything makes sense. Repeat as necessary.
But this is making it sound like I’m not enjoying it, which is definitely not the case. It feels almost like a puzzle – you have to get all the details just right in order for the negotiation to work. Hopefully I’ll solve the puzzle before the end of next week; it’s actually good that I have some sort of a time limit on how much I can work on it, because I have the feeling that it’s one of those projects that I could rapidly become obsessed with perfecting.