Coordination management

Coordination management

Coordination is all about cooperation and team work, this ranging from collaboration in a loose manner to fully integrated teams. Coordination is managed by way of managing different levels of teamwork integration, according to circumstances and tasks. For example, we can easily find basic group interactions (mutual adjustment) which fall out of being proper cooperation, yet is commonplace in our daily life. For example, driving is an example of mutual adjustment: it is not teamwork proper but a basic level of cooperation that allows us to go about our business efficiently and safely.

Levels of cooperation are such as mutual adjustment, collaboration and cooperation. The typical concept of teamwork calls for cooperation as higher level of coordination between people. Yet, most of the time, we are simply adjusting mutually to each other as we do our tasks or collaborating in loosely formed teams.

For example, even in a complex working environment such as the operating theater, most of the work is done using highly professional levels of collaboration: different professionals have different roles and every one is doing their tasks as needed. These tasks may be dependent on others' outputs, but each task is normally done by a particular person: the surgeon cuts and stitches, the anesthetist minds the anesthesia.
Indeed, videos accessible here shows how easy it is, once the main task is done (the operation), for the team to lose focus or even disband before the 'sign out' step of WHO's surgical safety checklist is completed.

One interesting aspect of healthcare, especially larger hospital settings, is that there is no 'continuity' in teamwork from the moment a patient enters the hospital to the time he has recovered his health. For example, if the patient is scheduled for an operation, no health provider actually admits the patient or care continuously for him all the way through (eg, as a parent would do for a sick child). The surgical team will actually form at around the time the operation is about to start, and it will dismantle as soon as the operation is done. In fact, it may start dismantling as soon as the task is done. This also means that there is a high risk a patient also loses 'continuity of identity and care while in hospital, overall, which is another of the weaknesses that WHO tries to patch with its surgical safety checklist (read more here).

Surgical safety checklist (WHO, 2008)

WHO's surgical safety checklist is usually portrayed as intended to work as a standard operating procedure does in aviation. But it only does so partially. The checklist actually tries to manage some three things at the same time. One of those things is to provide a higher team cohesiveness in the operating theater, considering that not all members assembling for a particular operation knows each other or knows each other well enough.

The element in the checklist highlighted in pink is but a way of trying to achieve a very basic team cohesiveness between professionals which will disband as soon as the operation is done. Such cohesiveness may also attempt to enhance assertiveness and ease teamwork in the operating theater.


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Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ (2011). Massey University, New Zealand (JDPerezgonzalezJDPerezgonzalez).

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