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HBX Business Blog

Backstage at HBX: Bringing a New Course to Life

Posted by Courtney Kaplan on December 6, 2016 at 10:17 AM


For the past several months, we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes to prepare HBX’s newest course offering on negotiation. Developing a new course is an incredible undertaking – it involves nearly everybody in our 80-person office – from our software engineers who build enhancements to the course platform, to our program service team who handle student applications and enrollment, to our creative team which owns the full multimedia production. In total, the process takes anywhere from nine months to just over a year.

As a member of our content team, I work with Professor Wheeler to research, write, and develop all the materials for the course. This has included everything from developing the course syllabus, writing case studies, building and testing negotiation scenarios, and traveling near and far to interview our panel of negotiation experts.


We initiated course development in February 2016 with a blank whiteboard. While we were fortunate to have years of Professor Wheeler’s course materials, research, and experience to weave into the course, we had to contend with a critical question. We wanted to focus on the ways in which online education could – and should – differ from the HBS classroom experience. Specifically, we sought opportunities to broaden and build upon the classroom learning experience, and did so in a couple ways.

First, we incorporated a broad and diverse range of negotiation perspectives, including 12 expert negotiators and seven Harvard faculty members. Our experts span an incredible range of industry, function, and experience. We traveled to Washington, DC to tour the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and interview the Director of its collections, and then to Florence, Italy to interview the Global Chief Litigator of General Electric’s Oil & Gas Division. In Los Angeles, we spoke with the former FBI Lead International Kidnapping Negotiator. We interviewed entrepreneurs, a mediator, a literary agent, lawyers, businesspeople, strategists, and even a mayor.


Armed with these perspectives, we began our second round of filming. This time, we were in our studio, a professional soundstage near our offices in Allston, MA. As the course syllabus and outline took shape, we developed detailed scripts for Professor Wheeler’s lessons. These lessons are the backbone of the course, but are interspersed with material from our experts, additional faculty, and dozens of interactive teaching elements.

Our last few months have been consumed with finalizing the content and packaging it together. I’ve been working with our creative team to select video clips, which they’ve edited, animated, and brought to life. We’ve also been testing out new teaching elements which were built for the course. These technical enhancements enable students to negotiate live on the HBX course platform, take personality quizzes, and complete negotiation puzzles and games.

Overall, it’s been quite a journey! From all of us at HBX, we’re thrilled to share this incredible new course with you! If you're interested in learning more about Negotiation Mastery: Unlocking Value in the Real World, visit our website here.


About the Author

Courtney is a member of the Course Delivery Team at HBX, focusing on developing courses in Negotiation and Financial Entrepreneurship. She holds a BA in Global Affairs from Yale University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and with friends, wandering around libraries, and learning new things.

Topics: HBX Courses