More on my time at Southfield… on negotiating, I noticed that kids seem to go through distinct stages.
First, they’re trying to understand the concept of their next best option and what sort of target price makes sense. At this stage they sometimes seem confused and make nonsensical offers when faced with a live opponent. To help here, we created super-simple scenarios with no extraneous “informational noise”.
In the second stage, they get the next best option concept and are trying to process (in real time) their opponent’s offers in light of their next best option and goal. Here we see them exchanging offers back and forth speaking nothing but numbers.
Lastly, when they are comfortable with the first two stages, they start to add more color and context instead of simply throwing numbers across the table (“this is a really good bike” or “well, thanks for that offer, but…”). We also see them starting to be cognizant of their time constraints (and possibly their opponent’s time constraints) in this third stage.
My guess is that each kid needs to experience two to three negotiations to advance from one stage to another (by “experience”, I mean either judging or negotiating). So once the kids get the hang of the process, it might make sense to break the class into two smaller groups (6 – 8 each) and run two negations at once (each with its own timekeeper and judges). The smaller, more intimate groups might allow more learning to happen faster (maybe the judges and timekeeper all stand and cluster tightly around the two negotiators so they are all really in the thick of the action).