Collaboration makes all of us better

The Last Word

Catherine Jacobson

Cathy Jacobson
President and CEO, Froedtert Health
9200 W. Wisconsin Ave., Wauwatosa
Staff: 10,913 (active staff, not FTE’s)
Industry: Nonprofit regional health care network


“In a world where everyone is pushing to get ahead, the idea of collaboration may seem outmoded. But it’s more important now than ever. Simply put, the best get better by learning from each other.

“Partnership long has been the cornerstone of the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin philosophy. Together, Froedtert & MCW form the region’s only academic medical center. The very essence of an academic medical center is a partnership between a medical school and a teaching hospital, where the ability of each to carry out its multiple missions depends upon collaboration.

“As a leader in a collaborative organization, I must understand the big picture in terms of what we do well, where we need to improve and how to close that gap. It’s my responsibility to guide an aligned vision of where the organization is headed, to bridge external and internal environments, and to connect the dots for our leaders and staff. This is crucial in an era where collaboration and competition both matter.

“In evaluating partners that can help us achieve our strategic vision, we’ve learned to look for shared values, complementary capabilities and willingness to learn from each other. In establishing partnerships, commitment, clear purpose and expectations, and constant communication are essential, as is putting it in writing.

“Partnerships can generate benefits that extend beyond a single organization, building ties that strengthen the communities we serve. Collaboration leverages knowledge, scale, skills and resources that may be inaccessible alone. When it all works, the return on investment can be tremendous.”

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