Article Series Highlights ICTR Leadership in the Science Underlying High-performing Translational Teams

A graphic showing the cover of the Journal of Clinical and Translational ScienceA series of three articles published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science highlights the contributions of the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) in the area of team science and unlocking the full potential of translational teams in order to benefit human health.

ICTR is at the forefront of advancing Translational Teams (TTs) as a critical mechanism for translating new discoveries into improvements in human health. Translational Teams are distinguished from generic interdisciplinary teams in their dynamic membership and translational goals. However, says ICTR Executive Director Dr. Allan Brasier, “Significant progress needs to be made to make teams perform more effectively in translation.”

Authors who contributed to the series of articles are: Allan Brasier, Elizabeth S. (Beth) Burnside, Shannon L. Casey, Peggy Hatfield, Patrick W. Kelly, Bo Liu, Felice Resnik, Betsy Rolland, Whitney A. Sweeney, and Marin Schweizer.

These contributors represent ICTR’s Team Science program; its Workforce Development program; the Dissemination and Implementation Launchpad; Evaluation and Tracking; and ICTR leadership.

The series of articles is as follows:

Competencies supporting high-performance translational teams: A review of the SciTS evidence base

This scoping review identifies specific knowledge, skills and attitudes of high-performance translational teams. From these, the authors name a core set of skills in inclusion/trust, knowledge sharing and leadership that are self-reinforcing and linked closely to team performance.

Temporal development of high-performance translational teams

The second paper advances the field by proposing how translational teams develop and mature.  Instead of approaching team maturation from a standard, sequential Input-Process-Output (IPO) view, the authors focus instead on an evolutionary learning model.

This learning model is better suited for understanding teams in real-world situations because TTs are continuously adapting and evolving in complex and changing environments.  The authors describe how TTs undergo ordered developmental phases, each representing a learning cycle that they call Formation, Knowledge Generation, and Translation. They identify major activities of each phase and link these to development goals.  Viewing TTs from this learning perspective sheds lights on which team behaviors are most important and focuses training on those that will have the most impact.

A leadership model supporting maturation of high-performance translational teams

The third paper in the series focuses on the connection between leadership behaviors and translational teams’ performance.

Virtually every aspect of a team is influenced, either positively or negatively, by leadership behaviors.  The authors identify the behaviors most appropriate for each stage of team development. This work further shows that effective team leadership evolves from a hierarchical, transformational model early in team Formation to a shared, functional leadership model during Translation.