Understanding Collaboration Using Thomas-Kilmann
Teaching About Collaboration: Categorizing situations and choosing strategies in a specialized learning activity
As a result of participating in this activity, learners will:
- Assess topically relevant situations and construct an argument for the type of strategy being used following the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument.
- Distinguish and explain the unique characteristics of collaboration and how it is different than compromise.
- Assemble students into teams of 5-6 using some method to ensure diversity/interprofessionalism on each team.
- Provide each team with a large sheet of paper (such as one used on a room easel) and a marker.
- Explain the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument, helping each team create their own engagement mat on the large sheet of paper for the activity that is to follow. Have learners suggest or predict the names of behaviors (such as competition, compromise, accommodation, etc.) based on the intersecting interests identified in the model.
- Once each team has completed their engagement mats, introduce possibilities from a deck of situation cards, and ask teams to decide which of the five categories best describes the strategy represented in the scenario.
Each team will require a large piece of paper such as one might find with easel and wall chart paper, a marker, and situation cards.
SizeSmall Group, Medium Group
EquipmentMinimal Equipment - Large pieces of paper, markers, situation cards.
LessonAnalyzing Team Strategies
In this version of the activity, teams are given similar decks of situation cards and work through them utilizing discussion to determine which strategy they perceive is active.
- In some scenarios, there were competing interests that were driving behavioral choices. How possible do you think collaboration is in these instances?
- Since collaboration represents an investment of time for an improved outcome, how do teams weigh out the cost/benefits disparities in collaboration?
On healthcare teams, there is often either a defined or a presumed leadership figure. How do you think that impacts the strategies open to teams in their decision-making? In light of evidence-based practices as a foundation for patient care, which strategy from this model appears to you to be most likely to be practiced?
LessonModifying Team Choices
In this version of the activity, situation cards are read one at a time by the facilitator, or a single deck is distributed among participants. The participants continue to decide together with their team which strategy is being used. Discussion and defense (if needed) follow related to the choices teams make in large group call out.
- What considerations did you and your team make in determining which strategy was in use?
- In what ways might different perceptual lenses or personal self-interests influence the groups process and decision-making? How easy or hard is it to see the situation from another perspective?
- What do you think the impact is when we consider the patient’s expectations in this model? The patient’s family’s expectations?
- How can healthcare teams work through differences that might preclude a collaborative solution, given the personal and professional investments of the people involved?
LessonWinning Outcomes through Collaboration and Innovation
Utilizing either of the two formats indicated above, learners are asked to suggest alternative solutions for the situation that would make the team more nearly collaborative.
- How can a team move from solutions that are dependent on self-interests to ones that equally weigh out the needs of all?
- If you were a consultant to a group identified in any of these situations, what would you think were essential skills that team members needed or that the team needed as a whole to achieve collaboration?
- How do you think collaborative teams process situations? In what ways is a collaborative solution more or less challenging as an alternative?
- If you were the leader of a healthcare team, what do you think would be the greatest challenge to getting your team to change its historical decision-making strategies?
- In what ways might systems policies (such as those in a healthcare system, for example, related to patient care, practice, etc.) impact the ability to achieve collaboration in your future healthcare practice?
SummaryUtilizing targeted, relevant situations, team members discuss the strategies being used, and explain how collaboration on teams is different than compromise, in this interactive, engaged-learner activity!
For more information about how to utilize games, low-fidelity simulation, and interactive learning to teach concepts of teamwork and collaboration, contact Better.Teams@rosalindfranklin.edu