Why?

To help your partnership avoid the problems and pitfalls that can occur from confusion over roles, responsibilities and the chain of communication and permission through clarification and agreement. Nothing can send your partnership “off the rails” faster than problems with roles and responsibility. When your work rests on trust, being clear about who is responsible, makes the final decision or needs to be consulted before something moves forward is a no-brainer.  Two people doing a task can become “why don’t you trust me to get it done?” Two different decisions about a final draft can turn into “Why are you stepping on my toes,” and not finding out about a change in date for a key event can lead to “We gave the funder the wrong information and are in big trouble – I’m out of this partnership.” These seemingly small things can become huge problems if you and your partner lack mutual understanding. Not to mention how it hampers effectiveness, creates duplication of effort and can generate bad will.

What’s the Result?

Through this exercise, you and your partner will create a RACI chart that clearly outlines your tasks and process and who plays what roles in making the work happen.

Materials:
Flip chart or large whiteboard and markers, paper and pens

Time: 120 minutes +

Step 1:  Getting Started:  Some Ground Rules and Concepts for RACI Charting

When setting out to establish roles, responsibilities, and working agreements, partners should follow a few simple ground rules. You’ll want to really have honesty and openness in this exercise for it to be successful. 

For any partnership to be successful, it’s key that roles and responsibilities are crystal clear. The goal is to move away from ambiguity and toward accountability.

Before we move forward, let’s spend some time with the following definitions for the RACI chart and process:

RESPONSIBLE “R”

“The Doer” – The “doer” is the person who completes the task. They are responsible for action or implementation, which can be shared. Ultimately, the degree of responsibility is determined by the individual with the “A”.

ACCOUNTABLE “A”

“The Buck Stops Here” – The accountable person is the one who, at the end of the day, answers for the activity or decision. This includes “yes” or “no” authority and veto power. Only one “A” can be assigned to an action!

CONSULT “C”

“In the Loop” – The consulting role is someone to be consulted prior to a final decision or action. This person usually has specific expertise, position or information that makes them important for consultation before moving forward

INFORM “I”

“Keep in the Picture” – This person needs to be informed after a decision has been made. Though it is a one-way communication, they may be required to take action as a result of the decision that was made.   It may also cause problems if this person does not have timely and correct information

Now that you speak the language, let’s jump into the exercise.

Step 2:  Doing the RACI Charting

  1. Together with your partner, talk through your process of working together and assign 10-15 activities or tasks to that process. Make sure each activity or task is well defined and understood by all.  These can include anything that has to do with how you work.  Examples of key activities or tasks might be – create monthly reports for DYCD, coordinate space rental, determine the budget.
  2. Determine the activities or tasks to “chart” – these should be those that warrant assigning R’s, As’, C’s, and I’s. Avoid charting obvious activities, such as “attend a meeting” or “prepare a report,” and make sure that each activity begins with an action verb (examples include evaluate, operate, determine, develop, and authorize). These tasks will go down the left-hand column of your chart.
  3. Create a list of roles involved in these activities. Roles may include individuals, teams, organizations, and agencies, and should be attached to position, department, or organization titles, rather than the names of individuals. This will ensure that the chart continues to flow even if staffing changes. These will flow across the top of your RACI chart.  Included here maybe your partner organizations, boards, institutions you’re working with such as schools, etc.
  4. Now, develop your RACI chart! Start by assigning the R’s, followed by A’s, C’s, and I’s.  This can be harder than it looks?  How many “R’s” are too many?  What if you can’t agree on just one “A” for a certain task?  Keep talking and walking it through.  You may find that too many “R’s” has been the problem all along or that finally agreeing on a clear “A” opens up time for someone to focus on something else.  It’s a hard but rewarding process that can reveal many important things and lead to new and more effective ways of getting things done.

When you’re done, get feedback. Share the RACI Chart with other stakeholders and consider their input. Make changes where appropriate and continue to check in on the chart over time to make changes as your partnership and work evolve. Some guidelines:

  • There can only be one A per activity
  • Authority must accompany the A – that role must have some clout
  • Keep the number of C’s and I’s low
  • All roles must be documented and communicated
  • Revisit the roles periodically to make sure that “drift” does not happen

Sample RACI matrix

Activity School Principal Program ED Program Director
Communicate to funder R A R
Manage Budget C A R
Deliver the Program C R A
Task 4 A I R
Task 5 R A I

Step 3:  Clarifying processes & drafting an MOU

  1. Once you have clarified who is doing what with your partner, discuss how you want to keep track of work, make decisions and communicate with each. Do you want to operate by consensus or does the ultimate decision-making land with the person that is accountable? How often do you want to check in with each other on progress and how – in person, over email?
  2. Once you have made these decisions then, you can draft or update your MOU.