Partner Cafe Archives

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The Relationship Factor in Safety Leadership

RCRC April 2020 Partner Cafe

Rosa Carrillo, Carrillo & Associates Safety Leadership Consulting

David Christenson, Paradigm Human Performance, The Taos Institute
Skip Grieser, Air Traffic Controller (Retired); Colorado State University
Nate Woods, GE Aviation Ethiopia, Antioch University

Jody Hoffer Gittell, RCRC, Brandeis University

The Coronavirus has helped us to appreciate our common capabilities and limitations in very new ways. Interest in safety and health from our global, national, and local community is surfacing in response to this new threat. We plan to introduce the latest perspectives on safety and health in a complex, fast changing environment.

Communication failures are at the heart of most health, safety and environmental incidents. Thus, trust and transparency are essential to surviving this pandemic. How do holistic relational perspectives help us understand others and collaborate with a genuine interest in addressing common issues? How can leaders respond?

Relational coordination can provide a general framework to focus and start positive conversations that reveal interdependence and build relationships. Adding appreciative inquiry to the dialogue helps to bring out the specifics that generate empathy and efficacy. Emotional and social intelligence learning opportunities may surface. 

Principles from humble inquiry, psychological safety, high reliability organizing, human organization performance, safety differently, and resilience engineering shape social relations within families, neighborhoods, as well as workplace tribes. These perspectives can help to enhance physical safety by strengthening connections across traditional tribal boundaries and common polarities.

In short, while crisis intensifies risk, it also provides an opportunity for leaders to strengthen relationships. Join us to learn and share lessons for creating workplaces and communities that are psychologically and physically safe.

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Extreme Teaming and RC - Substitutes or Complements for Solving Ill-Structured Problems?

RCRC March 2020 Partner Cafe

Carsten Hornstrup, Joint Action Analytics
Daniel Massie, Norwegian Business School

Jody Hoffer Gittell, RCRC, Brandeis University
Ragnhild Kvålshaugen, Norwegian Business School 

Relational approaches to coordination are well-suited for addressing ill-structured problems (ISPs). ISPs are problems that are blurred, do not have a clear solution pathway, can productively be understood from diverse perspectives and are riddled with uncertainty, complexity and interdependencies (Simon, 1973). Two streams of research; Relational Coordination Theory (Gittell, 2002) and Extreme Teaming (Edmondson & Harvey, 2018), offer insights into collective coordination processes of coping with ISPs. 

Relational Coordination Theory illuminates coordination as a mutually reinforcing process of communicating and relating for task integration (Gittell, 2002), especially impactful under conditions of high uncertainty, interdependence and time constraints. RC is a network of ties between roles and/or organizations that enables participants to see and act in terms of the whole. There is strong empirical support for both the outcomes of relational coordination and the management practices that help to support it, such as shared accountability, shared rewards, relational job design and relational leadership (e.g. Gittell,  Seidner & Wimbush, 2010; Gittell & Douglass, 2012). 

Extreme Teaming (ET) describes a process and principles for effectively integrating diverse professionals and skill sets around complex challenges. ET provides relevant insights for understanding how teams come together and productively carry out problem-solving (Edmondson & Harvey, 2017). This is especially important when dealing with ISPs. The integration of different professional perspectives, knowledge sets and capabilities, in finding competent and innovative solutions, is helping professionals to engage as a collective, in solving the most pressing and complex problems (Edmondson & Harvey, 2017). Extreme teaming gives us a good understanding of how diverse cross professional teams can come together to productively engage in problem-solving processes and helps us understand how cross-professional and cross-organizational team-based arrangements, with fluid membership, can develop a capacity for coordination and act as a collective.

In this Cafe we will explore the synergies and complementarities between these two theories and the implications for practice.

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Roundtable Austin10th Annual 2020 RCRC Roundtable
Building a Relational Society
Austin, TX | Nov 4-8, 2020