Replacing RACI with observations from racing

Replacing RACI with observations from racing

RACI is an acronym that stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. A RACI chart is a matrix of all the activities or decision making authorities undertaken in an organisation set against all the people or roles.

Responsible: person who performs an activity or does the work.
Accountable: person who is ultimately accountable and has Yes/No/Veto.
Consulted: person that needs to feedback and contribute to the activity.
Informed: person that needs to know of the decision or action

The problem is the theory does not match the reality 

In theory Accountable, in practice Consulted or Informed

The project board is primarily a decision-making body. Their role is to keep the project moving forward by solving problems that can block its progress and helping the project manager see a clear route to successful completion. Throughout a project, the project manager may put recommendations to the board

Generally project updates are simply that, an information update, they are seldom decision points and even more rarely time for discussion, design and decision. They tend to be a very short and perfunctory note on plans, progress, problems and performance. 

In theory Accountable or Consulted, in practice Informed

A design authority is a body put in place to manage, track, and fulfill project progress more holistically. The design authority evaluates all elements of a project—cost, skill and resource requirements, potential security concerns, feasibility, and more—from every angle

Project Assurance is the process of critically assessing the health and viability of a project (at the risk of over-simplifying it, think of it as an audit function).

Often the reality is that Design Authority are too senior and too busy to take time and look at details and their role is either to “review” (often without adequate information and time to make a considered appraisal) or “comment” generally on the recommendations or assurances of the project or delivery team rather than the technical detail of the product, service, function or artifact.

In theory Responsible, in practice Responsible + Accountable

If the above roles are in any way weak or inadequate the project or delivery team becomes Accountable. This is clearly expedient since separating “doing” from “reviewing” demands extra work and a feedback loop of Plan > Do > Check > Review necessitating the time, effort and expense of dialogue and delays in coming to decisions. 

But the risk is that the project or delivery team vision, action, outputs or outcomes become misaligned to the expectations and aspirations of Design Authority or Project Board.

An often used analogy: You want to fly the family to Edinburgh and the project or delivery team pick the easiest solution is to fly to Prestwick and then catch a train. The project mission, vision and end-goal appears satisfied but the time, cost, process, output and outcomes may fall short of stakeholder expectations.

In a previous article I talked about avoiding scope-creep and the regular scenario where the project or delivery team simply delete or delay key features in an effort to hit a deadline, often compromising quality and consensus in favour of pace. Whilst it can be satisfying to arrive on-time, if your luggage is at a different destination and will take a eek to arrive the holiday may be somewhat compromised. 

The superficial success of achieving deadline can be undermined if the product falls short of expectations. Imagine your joy at the delivery of your new car, and the frustration that the seats and wheels won’t arrive for another 6 weeks, in what the supplier calls Phase 2, but you strongly feel was part of the initial requirement.


The stakeholder roles and expectations are key here. Maybe instead of RACI we need new terms and recognise that all are responsible, accountable, consulted and informed in different ways throughout. All the roles will make recommendations and take decision, check with others and inform on plans, progress, problems and performance, within their sphere. The result is more like a venn diagram than distinct boxes separating do, decide, review, guide.


What’s the link with Formula1? Well Formula1 racing is more complex than RACI but more honest and realistic about the inter-dependencies and sometimes competing interests. I am interested in exploring these roles, albiet I should up with different headings.

All these people do, decide, review, guide. It is a team effort not just the person in the cockpit but everyone around them. 

These people take a wider view, using the information from the above team to inform decisions and directions which are fed back as decisions on tyres, pitstops, and on-track strategy.

All the above are the product or service which is sold to the sponsor(s). They are the customer, client or recipient. Clearly they are not the only beneficiary; everyone gets paid, the media get a story and the fans an experience. However the sponsors also do, decide, review, guide sometimes even to the selection of drivers and marketing as well as the funding for the project.

This group have a strong influence and whilst ostensibly passive as spectators they can be very active and vocal about drivers, owners, bosses and strategy and have in impact on all.

From here is is clear the boss isn’t really in command and control, but instead someone who need to manage and reconcile all these factors. They will be acutely aware of how their choices affect all the groups and interests outlined above. 

I think this is a more interesting model to replace RACI.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 
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