I’ve just finished a 10 day visit with our Danish and Swedish colleagues – a rich experience!

In Denmark we’re seeing relatively advanced uses of relational coordination in highly practical ways.  This is especially true in the municipalities where they are now responsible for healthcare in the community, behavioral health in the community, child care, K-12 education, after school activities, support for troubled families and children, employability support, immigrant integration, local culture and the physical infrastructure.  It’s a challenging job and they take it quite seriously.   As one municipal director said:  “We are close to the citizens and we are very practical.”

These municipalities are seeing a need for better coordination and a growing number are using RC concepts, measures and interventions to connect across their silos and with their citizens.  Last Tuesday, 750 people from Aarhus Kommune came to learn about relational coordination.  This week, over 150 change leaders from many of the Danish municipalities participated in a national RC Conference called Relational Coordination in Practice to share their current work with each other.  Some of their cool ideas:

§  Games that enable coworkers to develop and practice RC across roles, across sectors and with the citizens (Slagelse Kommune and Aarhus Kommune)

§  New leadership role called Network Director to facilitate cross-sector networks to solve specific challenges by building shared knowledge, shared goals, problem-solving communication etc. – right now there are 13 active networks, and each will last for about one year (Albertsland Kommune)

§  Shared budgets across sectors to facilitate relational coordination (Varde Kommune)

§  Relational mapping and RC measures to visualize how work is currently coordinated and where are the opportunities for strengthening RC (many kommunes)

Thanks to Carsten Hornstrup and other RCRC partners – Bo Vestergaard from Aalborg, as well as Karen Albertsen and Eva Thoft of Team Working Life – for coordinating the day.  They’ll host another RC Conference in November and I’m eager to see what has been learned by then!

Also spent two days in Copenhagen with our newest Danish RCRC partners – the management division of Ramboll Attractor led by Heidi Graf Mortenson and Hanne Moltke – where we introduced RC to their clients and colleagues and explored the connections to social capital more broadly.  Heidi and Hanne’s latest book offers practical tools for building RC at the level of microinteractions and microstructures.  For now it’s available in Danish and we may see an English version before too long.

Last but not least, relational coordination was introduced to Sweden on Tuesday in a Stockholm gathering hosted by Anders Risling and his colleagues in the GRO network (Christian Boden, Johan Holm, Pontus Holmgren and Jesper Hok).  They invited some of their leading clients and colleagues who they felt would most resonate with this work.   Toward the end of the day, after relational mapping and dialog, participants were invited to tell stories where they have experienced high levels of relational coordination, then identify some of the underlying factors that made it happen.

Several of the Swedish groups presented stories of “magical moments” or “magical meetings” that turned conflict or difference into positive outcomes by bringing the parties into dialog in ways that seemed unlikely or impossible given previous experiences.  These stories are similar to the relational interventions we are hearing about from our colleagues in the US, Canada, Denmark and the UK as well.  I am always curious to see how these relational interventions occur, and whether they give rise to work process and structural interventions that help to embed these transformative moments into everyday work.

Anders and his colleagues are seeing relational coordination as potentially useful on three levels – as a 1) theory 2) measure and 3) methodology for intervention.

Speaking of measurement, the RC Survey 2.0 is nearly ready for release in both Danish and Swedish, hosted by our partners in those countries and backed by RC Analytics.  Stay tuned or visit http://rcanalytic.com for updates.  We are getting more sophisticated uses of measurement in the RC community – not as a replacement for dialog but rather growing out of dialog and advancing the dialog forward into action.

The best part of doing this work is all the great people you get to meet – people from around the US and around the world who see well coordinated relationships as essential for meeting the needs of their multiple stakeholders – especially when work is interdependent, uncertain and time constrained.  See here for all of our faculty, student, research center, professional and organizational partners.  Before long we may have RCRC Denmark, RCRC Australia, RCRC Sweden and maybe RCRC UK/Ireland, RCRC Canada and RCRC Norway – in addition to the original RCRC.

Enjoy this growing community and help us find more ways to share what you are learning from your own work.

Thanks for reading and I hope you will share your thoughts and questions here!


Jody Hoffer Gittell
Professor, Brandeis University, Heller School
Executive Director, Relational Coordination Research Collaborative
Chief Scientific Officer, Relational Coordination Analytics
(603) 498-1305