How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When you are sorting out who does what in writing and publishing a document or completing other work, it is easy to fall into confusion about roles and responsibilities. Do we have to tell Jean about changes? Should John be allowed to stop us publishing? Is it worth asking Simon to help with the preparations? It is in the detail of questions like these that, if not clear and agree, problems can later occur as the individual either compete for doing the same work or leave things undone as they assume others will be picking up the job.
RACI is a simple acronym for the four roles of ‘responsibility, accountability, consulted and informed’ around doing a piece of work
This is the person responsible for actually doing the work. They may be a team leader who will engage others to do the work or they may do it themselves. Whichever it is, they are given the task of writing the document or otherwise completing the action. There can be a number of doers in any task.
The person who is accountable has their head on the block for ensuring the work is completed to time, budget and quality. They may be the same person as the responsible person or they may be the responsible person’s manager. Sometimes they work elsewhere and their main role is in gating or approval of the completed work.
There is usually only one person who is ultimately accountable for the overall work, although individuals may be accountable within the team for separate activities and outputs (and for which a separate RACI may be used). A common question in a RACI-managed debate is ‘Who’s got the A?’ This is effectively saying ‘Who gets to make the decision?’
The relationship between the responsible and accountable person is clearly important and if they are not the same person or do not have a formal working relationship then some work may be needed to ensure they can collaborate effectively.
Often in writing something where expertise is elsewhere or getting something done when others have an interest, then it is either useful or politic to ask them for input or otherwise garner their opinion. This may be through surveys, focus groups, meetings, reviews or other interactions.
A trap can occur where those consulted think they have R or A authority to change the work or block completion. However, whilst their opinion may be taken into account, they do not have this ability unless explicitly given.
These are people who are to be informed about the work but who have no say about its content and no control over how it is implemented. This may well include people lower down the organisation who will be affected by planned changes or other departments who might be impacted in some way.
In implementing change, keeping people informed is known to be good practice, although the style and timing of this must also be carefully planned.
In any planning activity, you can consider the RACI for all activities as well as for general roles in the work. As the table below indicates, roles can change quite significantly as dictated by expertise and formal position in the organisation.
RACI planning is useful also for highlighting issues such as ‘too many cooks’, ‘not enough communication’ and ‘nobody to do the grunt work’. It can also be useful to check that the work being allocated suits the style, preferences, expertise and general job responsibilities of the people involved.
Next time: MoSCoW analysis
This article first appeared in Quality World, the journal of the Chartered Quality Institute
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