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Lessons from “Successful Negotiation” in Developing “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions” MOOC

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

Professor Siedel’s “Successful Negotiation” has reached over 450,000 global lifelong learners. In addition to being translated into Portuguese and Spanish,  the course ranked second in the 10 Hottest Online Classes for Professionals in 2015 by Inc. Magazine and was included in the 10 Most Popular Free Online Courses for Professionals by Business Insider. Additionally, Modern Family actress, Sofia Vergara, recommended “Successful Negotiation as an option for self-improvement through sharpening negotiation skills.

Professor Siedel discussed with DEI how he applied insights from his experience developing and teaching this popular MOOC as he created his new course, “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions.”

Having reached over 450,000 lifelong global learners with the “Successful Negotiation” MOOC, what have been some of your most memorable teaching experiences?

Learners have sent me many stories about the immediate impact the course had on their careers and personal lives. The stories range from CEOs saving millions of dollars to individuals achieving success in their personal negotiations. Examples include a CEO from Singapore who saved over $4 million in a negotiation with a key supplier and negotiations for job promotions, the sale of a business, apartment rentals, hotel room rates, a smartphone upgrade and so on.

While I am pleased with the popularity of the course (ranked as one of the most popular business MOOCs of all time), I am especially grateful for the high course ratings that learners give the course:  4.7 out of 5.

How have MOOC learner experiences and feedback from “Successful Negotiation” affected your teaching style in residential courses in addition to the development process for “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions”?

In “Successful Negotiation” I learned two lessons that were useful in developing “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions” MOOC. First, learners appreciate immediate feedback about their learning. So at the end of each module I have included a practice quiz called “Show What You Know.”  Second, learners enjoy courses that are interactive. In response, I have included many “Hit Pause and Reflect” questions in the videos to give learners a classroom-like experience.

I also developed a free negotiation planning app for the “Successful Negotiation” course, available at Students in my residential courses at the University of Michigan receive benefits from the app, such as free access to planning tools and an assessment of their negotiation style.

What are some techniques you employ to ensure your MOOC is relevant and accessible to a global audience of learners?

My two MOOCs provide a global perspective on negotiation and on the three pillars of decision making: strategy, law and ethics. This global perspective is the result of my teaching seminars in a wide variety of countries and cultures around the world. During these seminars, I have received feedback from participants about the value of the concepts and skills covered in the two MOOCs. I bring this feedback into my MOOC by including many examples from countries outside the US. These examples, combined with US examples, give learners an introduction to both US and global business culture.

How does the Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions help learners be competitive in a global economy?

Given the complexity of modern business, it is easy to overlook the three essentials that govern every decision: strategy, law and ethics. In short, to achieve business success, leaders must manage risk (the Law Pillar) and create value (the Strategy Pillar) in a responsible manner (the Ethics Pillar). Leaders who ignore any one of the three pillars face business and personal failure. Within the past few months, VW and BP alone have faced liabilities exceeding $100 billion as a result of ignoring the Three Pillars model.

While the three pillars standing alone are important when making business decisions, they become especially powerful when they operate in sync with each other. This creates a “zone of competitive advantage” that is often sustainable because it is difficult for other companies to replicate. For example, companies that are able to move beyond a defensive reaction to product liability (which represents the Law Pillar) and use product design processes to identify customer needs will be able to achieve competitive advantage in their new product development (the Strategy Pillar).

How does an understanding of law, strategy and ethics impact and improve the processes of making business decisions and decision-making in general for learners?

When learners achieve a basic understanding of the law, they are enabled to manage business risk. But the challenge they face is that managing risk often conflicts with creating value, which is the goal of strategy. This MOOC shows learners how to increase the opportunity for business success by aligning risk management with value creation. This alignment, in turn, creates guiding principles for making ethical decisions.


To learn more and/or to enroll:

The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions: Strategy, Law & Ethics

Successful Negotiation: Essential Skills and Strategies






George Siedel

Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration and Thurnau Professor of Business Law

Ross School of Business

University of Michigan

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