Relational Coordination Collaborative

The RC Survey

The RC Survey is a tool that enables organizations to understand where relationships are strongest and weakest among groups and/or organizations that need to work together. Measuring relational coordination can serve as one of the first diagnostic steps for designing interventions and improving performance.

RC Survey Questions

The RC Survey measures the seven RC dimensions by asking participants about their experience of working together. The work process can be something general like “the work you do together” or something more specific like “post-operative care for surgical patients” or “ensuring student success.” You can assess RC among all groups involved in the work, including with the clients themselves.  You can also assess the strength of RC networks for meeting the needs of specific clients. The survey can be administered via a web link or included in an existing survey. It generally takes 10 to 12 minutes to complete.

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Cross-Organizational RC Map

How to Access the RC Survey

  • Relational Coordination Analytics (RCA) has built a user-friendly platform with data visualizations, inclusion of clients and/or leaders in the coordination network, cross-site benchmarking, trends over time, and more.  RCA partners with organizations to embed customized RC metrics into their dashboards.  RCA is currently the only organization that has a license to offer the RC Survey to other users. 
  • Brandeis University Office of Technology Licensing provides end user licenses to users who want to use the RC Survey questions on their own.  Please see here.

Relational Analytics: Guidebook for Measurement, Analysis and Action

Validation of the RC Survey

Relational coordination is measured using seven survey questions including four questions about communication (frequency, timeliness, accuracy, problem-solving) and three questions about relationships (shared goals, shared knowledge, mutual respect). These seven dimensions of relational coordination were discovered through qualitative field research. Together these dimensions form the relational coordination construct, which has been fully validated, and is associated with a wide array of performance outcomes and with multiple interventions that support it .

The Relational Coordination Survey meets the psychometric validation standards (internal consistency, interrater agreement and reliability, structural validity, and content validity) and is therefore considered to be a fully "validated" measure of teamwork.

Relational coordination is unusual in the sense that it is a fully validated measure of teamwork that can be applied to unbounded teams - teams that span multiple boundaries. Measures that meet these criteria are relatively rare. One other measure that meets these criteria is designed to measure teamwork from the perspective of nurses only. The Relational Coordination Survey has been included in several inventories of measurements, including:

History of the RC Survey

The RC Survey was first developed in 1994 in the context of flight departures. It was validated for use in flight departures (the original six-item measure), then in healthcare (including "accurate communication" to become a seven-item measure).  Using the same seven items, the survey has been used to assess cross-functional coordination as well as cross-organizational coordination and has been used to assess coordination among workers as well as coordination between workers and their leaders, and between workers and their customers.

Using the RC Survey for Interventions

"As elegant and straightforward as the RC Survey is as a measure, it is not a magic bullet for improving team performance or organizational culture. It needs to be used as one part of a broader intervention that includes longitudinal individual and team coaching, trustworthy processes for relational learning and accountability, and leadership development to assure consistent parallel process across levels of the team or organization. Such work requires the involvement of skilled coaches/consultants with experience in group dynamics, systems work, conflict resolution, and the teaching of emotional self-management. For all these reasons, we urge you not to tread lightly or naively into the realm of interventions. Be prepared to invest the necessary time and resources and be sure you have access to the skills and experience that the work requires."

  • Edgar Schein and Anthony Suchman (2012)
Anthony Suchman, MD