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Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD
Executive Director, Professor
Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University 


Transforming Relationships for High Performance

We have arguably entered the “age of relation” where, as human beings, we can either create a more relational society or move further into decline.  Consistent with this argument, there is strong evidence that relational coordination – communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration – helps multiple stakeholders to achieve their desired outcomes under conditions of interdependence, uncertainty and time constraints.  Shared goals work by motivating participants to move beyond sub-goal optimization to act with regard for the whole. Shared knowledge enables systems thinking by informing participants of how their own actions and the actions of others contribute to the whole.  Respect for the work of others encourages participants to value the contributions of others and to consider the impact of their actions on others, reinforcing their ability to act with regard for the whole.  This web of relationships reinforces, and is reinforced by, frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication, enabling participants to effectively coordinate their actions.  Low quality relationships have the opposite effect.  

But less is known about how leaders can facilitate greater visibility and strengthen relational coordination where it is in need of repair.  In this keynote, Dr. Gittell will show how relational coordination works then share the latest knowledge about how leaders facilitate the process of strengthening it in their organizations and communities, working together across multiple levels of systems change. 

About Jody: Jody Hoffer Gittell is a Professor of Management at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management.   Her research explores how stakeholders contribute to quality and efficiency outcomes through their coordination with each other. She developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication, supported by relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect. Research demonstrates that relational coordination is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, and that organizations can support it through the design of their work systems.  To measure relational coordination, Gittell developed the RC Survey as a validated instrument that is widely used for research, and more recently as a tool for practice, to assess dynamics among stakeholders and inform organizational change. Gittell received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management and taught for six years at the Harvard Business School before joining the faculty of Brandeis University in 2001.