I’m a big believer in accountability. I also believe that, in teams, responsibility and authority go hand in hand. If you’re responsible for a task or project, then you should have the authority to make things happen. You are going to be held accountable for the results.
At this year’s Tucana HR Change and Transformation conference, I learned the acronym RACI. It’s a term used in project management to assign responsibilities. RACI stands for who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who should Consult and who should Inform. According to Wikipedia, here’s how the individual roles are defined:
Responsible represents the people who are doing the work. Now I understand not everyone working on a project is hands on, so I’m assuming this is focused on the hands on, in the trenches work to be done. I’d also like to think that being responsible doesn’t absolve you from being held accountable for completing the work.
Accountability in this context means the person who ultimately will be labeled a success or failure based upon the outcome of the project. It might be the project manager or the person who championed the project in the first place. They also may or may not be doing some of the hands on work.
Consult (or Counsel) are the subject matter experts whose expertise is needed to complete the project. Depending upon the project scope, they might have a regular role within the project team or maybe they are consulted if a specific problem occurs. I could also see this role not being confined to internal resources. Maybe the SME is an external consultant or contractor.
Inform includes the person(s) who are sponsoring the project. Every project has a sponsor that helps the team obtain resources and buy-in. The sponsors must be kept in the loop about the project status. Often this can be done with written reports and occasional one-on-one meetings, but it’s a critical piece of the project.
RACI intrigued me because I wonder how many teams actually spend time discussing roles as part of a project plan. I don’t recall ever being on a team where we had a deliberate conversation about this. And I wonder if teams spent more time on this aspect, if it would help the group reach their goals faster and with fewer setbacks. Each person knows their role, can operate effectively, and conflict is reduced.
Business professionals can benefit from project management tools in their daily interactions. Acronyms like RACI can add a level of clarity to the project…and to the outcome. Maybe it’s time for business pros to start reading project management blogs and keeping a PM book on the bookshelf. It could come in handy.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby