Brandeis Innovation

Profiles in Innovation – Jody Hoffer Gittell

 Jody Hoffer Gittell


From the classroom to the workplace, our way of living always involves some element of coordination and cooperation to accomplish our goals. How we work with others is an essential factor in determining the success of those collective efforts. Being able to measure and monitor these interactions, therefore, becomes important tooptimizing workplace dynamics.

How people do their work together has always been of keen interest to Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD., Professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Since childhood, Jody’s interest in how people work together led her towards a career in academic research, studying workplace interactions and processes. From Jody’s time in the airline and healthcare industries, her various learnings and experiences led to the development of her now iconic Relational Coordination (RC) theory – coordinating highly interdependent work through shared mutual values and based upon high quality relationships and communication.

Relational Coordination – Benefits & Initiatives

As far as efforts studying workplace interactions go, what has set Relational Coordination apart is its simplicity as a tool. By making relationships and communication highly measurable and being  focused around collecting information from real people doing work, Relational Coordination accurately captures people’s experiences within the workplace.

With the desire to broaden Relational Coordination’s reach, Jody created the Relational Coordination Collaborative (RCC). By helping to translate RC’s research into practice, RCC supports others in utilizing RC beyond Jody’s own work as well as enabling others to connect with one another.

While RCC’s efforts focus on building a broader network of connections, providing monitoring and analytics services led to Relational Coordination Analytics (RCA) – an initiative that helps clients optimize their organization’s workplace interactions from learnings based on data captured within their work environment. Among their measurement-related offerings includes the RC Survey instrument, a powerful tool that Jody originally developed during her doctoral studies. Designed for any quality improvement or transformation initiative, it offers a simple, effective method to gather data, relaying the results in a highly visual, user-friendly way.

Impact & Challenges

Since RC’s conception, Jody has seen her work being implemented across a wide range of industry sectors over the years as a result of the growing awareness and realization of its potential. This includes specialized healthcare subsectors, commercial businesses, social services and education.

As far as goals go, Jody’s work with Relational Coordination, especially with RCC, has fulfilled her intention – bringing people together across multiple research areas and practices. The journey so far has certainly brought with it some of her most significant learnings, especially in recent years.

Besides navigating the RC-related challenges associated with client organizational interactions, Jody’s research findings within the healthcare sector revealed some significant correlations between relational coordination, work-life balance and burnout. As seen during the pandemic, the ability to work together serves as a protecting factor, creating resilience during times of crisis.

What’s Next?

Looking forward, Jody’s vision for Relational Coordination continues to grow and evolve. As she develops and scales her efforts, there’s no doubt the future of our workplaces will feel the influence and potential impact from its ever-expanding reach across the world.

“I’ve always been interested in how people do their work together. That started by growing up on a farm, where I lived in a workplace and was involved on a daily basis as a small child. I took that interest throughout my schooling, in how people basically form a community together.” – Jody Hoffer Gittell, Professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.