I can't think of a better context to build relationships than trying to work together to do something meaningful.
Sports teams strive to be the best to win the championship. That is their common bond.
What basketball can teach us
When you look at professional basketball teams, it's intriguing. Even though anyone can take shots or drive to the net, the best teams are made up of specialists who are the best at one aspect of the game.
They also talk to each other a lot on the court. That communication binds them together in pursuit of a common goal - winning.
A consortium is a team of specialists.
Instead of striving to win games, a medical research consortium seeks to change the future of medicine.
Like any team, it is about having specialists and communicating well with each other.
Most importantly, it is about relationships.
Sure you may have relationships without a consortium. However, those relationships are different.
Outside of a consortium, relationships usually take the form of here is what I have done, what have you done, and how can we share.
A consortium project is more like here is a problem, usually, a big problem that no one can solve on their own. How can we work together to solve that problem?
That has the potential to be a much more vibrant and meaningful set of relationships.
The point is it is not about the funding, it is not about the papers.
It is about the relationships and the deep satisfaction that comes from having strived for a difficult goal together.
Like anything, those relationships are not a given.
If you approach consortia with a relationship-building mindset, you will achieve much more, you will build your network for the future, and you'll have more fun.
It is the relationships that matter the most.