Science & Tech

Tuning the system: Program buffers health care collisions

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A four-step approach to problem-solving

The Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Leonard Marcus, trains health care professionals to minimize the conflicts that inevitably arise. The four-step program outlined below is called “Walk in the Woods” after a famous story about arms control negotiators who found common interests that led to new solutions. Step one: self interests. Each participant articulates his or her view of key problems, issues, and options. They are encouraged to actively listen, question, and interact with one another. Step two: enlarged interests. The participants reframe their understanding of current problems and possible options with a wider perspective, based on the integrative listening and confidence-building that occurred in step one. Step three: enlightened interests.The group is ready to engage in innovative thinking and problem-solving, generating ideas and perspectives that had not previously been considered. Step four: aligned interests. Participants build common ground perspectives, priorities, action items, agreement, or plans for moving forward. Depending on the scope of the intended objectives, at this point they recognize the tangible contributions and opportunities accomplished through the meeting.