Solving the biggest challenges in medicine

Multiple disciplines and multiple stakeholders must work together in consortia to solve the biggest challenges in medicine. However, working in a consortium is a different way of working.

The Assembled Chaos Model is a proven approach for forming and managing consortia that:

  • is based on 11+ years experience with high profile consortia
  • increases the likelihood a consortium will deliver on big projects
  • reduces the chances 'consortium fatigue'
  • creates more opportunities for resourcing your projects

Often consortia are formed for a project, but it is useful to think of consortia of being more than project specific. A consortium can be a platform for developing and connecting multiple projects.

The 5 Principles of the Assembled Chaos Model

#1 Leverage collective creativity

Ground breaking ideas emerge and intractable problems are solved when multiple disciplines and multiple perspectives are integrated in iterative facilitated discussions.

  • Making "fortuitous serendipity" routine

    Michael Nielsen points out that when you have multiple experts collaborating to solve a problem connections that would happen as a matter of “fortuitous serendipity” become routine making a group able to solve more difficult problems much more rapidly than any individual ever could.

  • "Group Genius"

    Group genius occurs when the right mixture of expertise is brought together. Just getting people together is not enough. There needs to be a degree of structure that also allows for a degree of flexibility. Keith Sawyer describes jazz and improv comedy as examples of group genius.

  • The value of having a neutral moderator

    A core tenet of the Assembled Chaos Model is having a neutral moderator who structures and guides discussions in an iterative manner. The moderator also thinks strategically, makes connections, and positions a consortium and its projects in the broader context of current trends and advancements.

#2 Make a difference for an important problem

Partners in a consortium that has a clear sense of purpose persist in the face of difficulties and invest more effort than expected.

  • Starting with "Why?"

    Simon Sinek highlights that while most of us know what we do, fewer know how we do it, and even less know why we do what we do. He points out that if we all knew our why we do what we do we would be highly motivated to get out of bed and come to work each day.  Everyone likes to have a sense of purpose in their work. The same is true for working in consortia.

  • What problem are you going to solve?

    Assembled Chaos consortia are based on solving a big problem in medicine. Each project within a consortium is focused on what will be different once the project’s objectives are met. A clear vision is then formed and a succinct statement of that vision is communicated widely and repeatedly.

#3 Involve stakeholders

The perspective of different stakeholders is a rich source of ideas and inspiration. There is real value in involving stakeholders in a meaningful way

  • Awakening passion in project partners

    In the U-BIOPRED project patients not only gave feedback they took part in work package operational calls. The biggest impact was that their perspective awoke a sense of passion in the project partners that helped motivate them to persist despite major challenges.

  • Impact is different for different stakeholders

    The impact of a project is different for different stakeholders. Projects that deliver for multiple stakeholders gain traction much more rapidly. Projects developed in Assembled Chaos consortia consider what the impact will be for multiple different stakeholders.

  • The power of a strong shared vision

    A strong shared vision helps bind a consortium together. For each consortium and  its  projects a clear succinct set of messaging is developed for each type of stakeholder.

#4 Integrate partner aspirations

The best consortia are those that pull together partners whose individual aspirations can be integrated in such a way that as a whole the consortium achieves the aims and objectives of its projects while individual partner aspirations are respected.

  • Understanding partner aspirations

    Assembled Chaos consortia start with an effort to understand individual partner’s aspirations. This helps in deciding what sort of projects to develop and who to involve in which project. The effort to integrate partner aspirations should be carried out by a neutral moderator who has a good strategic overview of the consortium.

  • Creative realignment

    When a mismatch between partner aspirations and project aims develops the neutral moderator leverages collective creativity to find a way forward that re-aligns partner aspirations with project aims.

#5 Motivate with feasibility and delivery

Everyone has seen good project ideas go nowhere because of failures in implementation. Concrete plans and delivery on project objectives increase partner enthusiasm and can fuel the continued success of a consortium.

  • Concrete plans early in the process of project formation

    The approach is to build a concrete plan early in the process of project formation. The act of developing a concrete plan uncovers weaknesses, risks, and new ideas for driving your project forward.

  • Strategic project management for rapid delivery

    To achieve rapid delivery a strategic project management approach is employed. This means that an experienced consultant who understands collaboration, science, project management, and entrepreneurship works with project partners to implement the plan keeping the aims, impact, and broader context in mind.

Ways in which the Assembled Chaos Model has been applied

  • 1

    Forming new consortia

    This includes bringing together partners, deciding upon the shared vision and value for different stakeholders, then developing a concrete plan for the first project.

  • 2

    Integrating across work packages in a project

    The collective creativity principle and strategic project management are used to convene a project team which pulls together all the active project participants to discuss progress and issues with the help of a neutral moderator.

  • 3

    Collaborating on data curation and/or analysis

    Data is the glue of any project. Using the principles of collective creativity and the involvement of different stakeholders, clinicians, researchers, data scientists, statisticians etc. are pulled together to work on curating data or conducting state of the art analyses.

  • 4

    Driving publications

    An iterative series of calls and a publication registry are used to organise and facilitate the production of multiple publications while avoiding overlap.

  • 5

    Project sustainability

    The principles of collective creativity, involvement of stakeholders, and solving an important problems are combined with lean startup methodology to drive iterative discussions facilitated by a neutral moderator. to develop a business model. The business model is then validated with various stakeholders.

  • 6

    Improving data quality

    Collective creativity and strategic project management are used to either build plans for quality data capture or retrospectively clean datasets.

  • 7

    Patient involvement

    A neutral moderator drives collective creativity with a diverse group of stakeholders including patiens using a format such as a discussion game to develop mutual understanding of various perspectives.

Interested in solving a big challenge in medicine?

We'd be happy to share with you some insights and strategies for forming a consortium or improving the performance of an existing one.