Relational Coordination Collaborative

Relating Across Differences

An Improvement Process for Clinical Units

Despite the benefits of increasing workforce diversity, if left unmanaged it can weaken the relationships that are needed for care delivery due to biases, misunderstandings and subgroup formations. The improvement process offered here helps clinical units to create a work and learning environment characterized by relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect, supported by high quality communication across professional, gender, racial, ethnic and other differences.  As a result, clinical units will be able to more readily leverage the rich information offered by diversity to achieve better outcomes for all participants. 

Six clinical units in three health systems will participate in the Relating Across Differences intervention over a three-year period, with one health system on-boarded in the Spring of each year.  We expect that interprofessional workers on participating clinical units will experience higher levels of awareness of and comfort with professional and social identity differences following the intervention compared to before.  As a result, these workers will also experience higher levels of relational coordination and psychological safety across professional and social identity differences, greater job satisfaction, work engagement, reduced burnout and increased intent to stay.  We also expect that participating clinical units will be more successful in achieving their patient care goals than they were prior to participation.

RAD is a training curriculum that

  • Combines diversity/equity/inclusion and interprofessional practice to improve team functioning and performance outcomes
  • Develops relationships across interpersonal differences (e.g., race, gender, class) and interprofessional differences (e.g., nurse, doctor, medical assistant, pharmacists)
  • Works with QI teams using a coach-the-coach model to help them build relationships across differences as part of their quality improvement work
  • Uses relational coordination as a validated model of interdependence
  • Is being developed and tested with Cleveland Clinic/Case Western Reserve University, Massachusetts General Hospital and University of Washington Medical Center, supported by the RAD Consortium for Curriculum Development
  • Is housed at Brandeis University and supported by funding from the Josiah Macy Foundation

learn more here!

Founding Members

Olawale Olaleye

Co-Principal Investigator, Relating Across Differences; Consultant, Deloitte; Consultant, Relational Coordination Analytics

Wale Olaleye is a Pharmacist, a Human Capital Consultant for Deloitte, a Consultant for Relational Coordination Analytics, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He received a PhD in Social Policy at The Heller School, an MBA with a focus on Health Systems Management from the Charlton College of Business at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and his Pharmacy degree from the University of Ibadan Nigeria. Olaleye studied interprofessional teams at Beth Israel Lahey Medical Center in Boston where he identified workforce diversity as an impediment to effective communication and relationship building between and within teams. His dissertation focused on the use of Relational Coordination principles to uncover professional and social identity-related discrimination on health care teams.  He now serves as Co-Principal Investigator on Relating Across Differences - An Improvement Process for Clinical Units, funded by the Josiah Macy Foundation, implementing the results of his research in three U.S. health systems over a three-year period. Prior to joining the Heller School, he worked at Steward Health Care System of Massachusetts and Care New England Corporate of Rhode Island as a Hospital Manager. He has also worked as a Clinical Pharmacist at government-owned hospitals in Abuja, Nigeria. His research interests include team-based care, diversity equity and belonging, opioid policy, performance of healthcare organizations and issues related to the healthcare workforce. 

Tony Suchman

Consultant, Relating Across Differences; Principal and Founder, Relationship Centered Health Care LLC; Visiting Scholar, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

Tony Suchman is a primary care internist, a health services researcher, a medical educator, and an organizational change consultant with a special emphasis on system integration and transformation. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He earned BA and MD degrees at Cornell University and completed a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowships in health services research and Behavioral and Psychosocial Medicine at the University of Rochester. For 16 years he worked on the medical school faculty in Rochester studying and teaching patient-clinician relationships and became a leading proponent of a clinical philosophy called Relationship Centered Care. Suchman then became interested in the effect of organizational culture on clinical care and medical education. 

Dr. Suchman worked for 5 years as a senior executive in integrated delivery systems and earned an MA in Organizational Change at the University of Hertfordshire (UK). In 2000, he founded a consulting group, Relationship Centered Health Care, that works with leaders, staff, customers, and board members of health care organizations worldwide to advance the practice of Relationship-Centered Administration. Suchman has pioneered interventional applications of Relational Coordination -- a theory by Jody Hoffer Gittell describing how teams manage their interdependence to carry out complex tasks. He has published more than 90 articles and book chapters and two books, most recently Leading Change in Healthcare: Transforming Organizations using Complexity, Positive Psychology and Relationship-Centered Care, co-authored with David Sluyter and Penny Williamson.

Jody Hoffer Gittell

Jody Hoffer Gittell

Co-Principal Investigator, Relating Across Differences; Faculty Director, RCC; Managing Board Member, Relational Coordination Analytics

Jody Hoffer Gittell is Professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, Faculty Director of the Relational Coordination Collaborative, Co-Founder and Board Member of Relational Coordination Analytics, and Academic Fellow at MIT Center for Information Systems Research.  To understand how stakeholders achieve their desired outcomes in coordination with each other, Gittell developed Relational Coordination Theory, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect, supported by frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication.  The Relational Model of Organizational Change shows how stakeholders can design structural, relational and work process interventions to support more effective coordination of their work.  Gittell is currently exploring the relational dynamics of multi-stakeholder change in ecosystems in multiple sectors around the world. With Olawale Olaleye and Tony Suchman, she is developing and testing a diversity management curriculum based on principles of relational coordination, called Relating Across Differences, funded by the Macy Foundation.  Dr. Gittell currently serves as treasurer for Seacoast NAACP, on the board of trustees for Greater Seacoast Community Health, on the editorial board of Academy of Management Review, and on the board of the Organization Development and Change division of the Academy of Management. She received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management.