What Does RACI Stand For?

May 21, 2021 Jamie Notter

The work of every organization can boil down to one thing: making decisions. Decisions set us in motion, they determine our strategy, and the quality of our decisions (at every level) literally determines the success of our endeavors. It’s as simple as that.

Yet many organizations spend little or no time evaluating the quality of their decisions or putting in place systems and processes designed intentionally to improve the quality or speed of decision-making. This kind of boggles my mind. I feel like this should be low-hanging fruit.

One of your go-to first steps should be clarifying decision-making roles. Leaving roles unclear or undefined will cost you money and time and generate extra stress (and believe me, your people are already stressed enough). The solution is simple: use the RACI model.

RACI is a simple system of understanding decision-making roles; the RACI acronym stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed, which represent all of the possible decision-making roles. The key, of course, is in getting clarity on what these words mean.

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If you scour the internet, you’ll find lots of versions of RACI, and, honestly, they often mix up the definitions. Responsible and accountable, for example, seem like they could be the same thing, don’t they? In our version, “responsible” is the decision maker and “accountable” is typically the boss who delegated decision-making authority to begin with (and thus has veto power).

Where we usually see the most confusion, however is in “responsible” and “consulted.” For example, who’s “responsible” for the marketing copy for that webinar you’re producing, is it the marketing staff or the education staff? One of them will be the R (makes the final decision) and the other will be the C (gets to weigh in and must be consulted before anything goes out, but does not decide). You could go either way on this one.

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You could argue that marketing should be consulted to help with the language, but it’s the education person’s call since they are developing the content. Or you could go with Marketing being the decision-maker since they are managing the brand, but the education staff should be consulted to help clarify the content.

Or you could do what most organizations do: leave it unclear, with the predictable result of two or three extra meetings to hash out the wording on the marketing emails, plus lots of griping at the water cooler by both sides about how the other side just doesn’t getting it and is the reason registrations are down. Leaving it unclear generates friction, and that is why we are over budget and miss our deadlines.

Interested in implementing the RACI model for key internal decisions? We can help.  Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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