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The RACI just isn't Racy

Despite its name, the RACI chart is the least “racy”(provocative) and least “race-y”(fast) thing happening at work today. The RACI Chart is a traditional way to define roles for a team. The acronym RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. What would happen if we just stopped doing them?

Who uses these things? Project managers are taught to create the RACI to clarify any confusion about who is doing what and make sure everyone who needs to be involved is considered. But let me ask you this, as you’re doing your work, have you EVER, even one time, consulted your RACI chart? You’re having a meeting, did you check the RACI to make sure you invited the right people? You made a trade-off decision, did you consult your RACI?

The reality is that work is so quick and fluid today, with a million micro-decisions and interactions, no one could possibly consult their RACI in any meaningful way. The RACI usually ends up in the proverbial “drawer collecting dust”.

How long did it take you to create that RACI? One argument for the RACI is that it’s a great thought exercise to align people and think through the stakeholders. I’ve seen these things take months to get presented, approved and ratified. The projects are well underway by the time that RACI is complete.

Do RACIs build or destroy trust? The idea of the RACI chart is that if everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for, there won’t be any conflict, and nothing will get missed. C’mon! In reality, the RACI promotes the “that’s not my job” mentality. When something goes wrong we know exactly whom to blame! Hooray, that buys you exactly nothing. Perhaps consider spending the time you used to spend on a RACI and instead put it towards building trust and building relationships.

How will we know who is doing what? Enter….Team Chartering. Yes, as a team you should think through what competencies and skills you NEED and then match that up with what you have. You’re also defining who your customers and stakeholders are. Do you really need to agree on whether a stakeholder should be consulted or just informed? No, you really don’t.

What if we miss someone. “God Forbid we miss someone, the company will simply collapse!” If someone feels they needed to be included but you missed them, simply apologize and add them in. There’s a big misconception that rework caused by missing a stakeholder is ALWAYS more than the cost of making sure you include everyone. Sometimes it’s more economically viable to get started and ask for feedback later. Getting everyone’s opinion slows down work and almost always results in a watered-down result. And yes, I know about the politics. You need to decide whether you will be driven by the opinions of others or whether you are going to do the right thing. Just get started already!

Brain Twist. Today’s brain twist is simple. If you have a “Develop a RACI” on your to-do list, or your project plan, mark it as done. As of right now, you are done with this and any future RACI. Open your umbrella just in case I’m wrong, but pssst….I’m not.

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