Down the RACI rabbit hole

May 17, 2022

“Let’s create a RACI matrix.”

A statement that makes many leaders and managers feel warm and fuzzy inside. Finally all our responsibility confusion will be absolved and replaced with clarity!

The matrix clarifies roles and responsibilities. Who is informed, consulted, responsible and accountable. The RACI plants flag poles that determine who is the boss over what and erects white picket fences around territories.

Going down the RACI rabbit hole is often about control. To clearly mark and protect your turf.

Instead of asking which role is responsible for what, as a leader we should ask how do we create the right conditions to empower our teams?

Empowering teams is scary and difficult. We enter unfamiliar terrain where our usual response of more structure, meetings and analysis does not work.

Complex work requires teams to act in the moment and to grant them the freedom to make decisions. Self-managing and empowered teams are necessary for success.

We can’t remove the fog of beforehand, what we can’t know before starting the work. Our usual response of more preparation introduces the fog of speculation, which makes matters worse.

Giving ownership and trust to those with the best understanding and information gives the most control.

Next time you reach for the comfort of a RACI blanket ask yourself: will this help to empower our teams or simply paint a picture of how we disempowered our teams?

Control without being controlling is what we should be aiming for.