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Responsibility Charting

information and action toolkit. Module 1. Introduction to responsibility charting. What is responsibility charting?. A technique that confronts and deals with ambiguity or conflict among roles in complex organizations..

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Responsibility Charting

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Responsibility Charting

information and action toolkitSlide2

Module 1Introduction to responsibility chartingSlide4

What is responsibility charting?A technique that confronts and deals with ambiguity or conflict among roles in complex organizations.

An [illustrative] way of recording and analyzing:

Organizational structures

Departmental relationships


Strategic alternatives,

Executive job content

Functional responsibilities AuthorityDecision-making processes. Korey (1988)Slide5

Responsibility charting is also known asLinear Responsibility ChartingAn easy-to-apply analytical technique

to: Clarify and refine functional

organizational structures and problems which seem to defy



implify the

intricate processes of decision making where organizational requirements and inter-relationships are especially

complex. Management Responsibility MatrixA way to analyze processes by exposing existing and potential problems and spotlighting differences quickly.A way to highlight objectively the organizational responsibilities and to resolve any conflicts. A way to guide and define the administration of the organizational activities.RACI – Responsible, Accountable, Consult, InformA tool used for identifying roles and responsibilities during a change process

An example of a linear responsibility chartSlide6

Different ModelsRACI (

ARCI)Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed





Signatory (VS)

RASCIRACI + Support (S)CAIRORACI + Out of Loop (O)DACIDrivers, Approver, Contributors, InformedRAPID


, Agree, Perform, Input,


Example of a basic responsibility chart using the RACI modelSlide7

Module 2Objectives and BenefitsSlide8

The business case: why do we need it?Complex Organizations require

richer range of relationships among actors and decisions.Managers are subjected to rapidly changing and increasingly complex organizational settings that often result in unclear lines of responsibility.




due to ambiguity around role involvement and decision making

Reduces duplication of work, overlapping work, and overlapping authority





and motivation

Realigns tasks in times of expansion/contraction

Eliminates unnecessary


quickly Slide9

Benefits to Responsibility ChartingBuild and design organization structure to meet the business' objectives.Illustrates relationships between team members.

Address uneven distribution of responsibility or workloadClarify goals, roles and responsibilities

Instill personal accountability

Opens up the opportunity to resolve conflicts and discussions

Improve communication relative to workflow

Ensures important/relevant processes are not overlookedSlide10

Module 3ImplementationSlide11

OD interventions: when should we use it?Environmental triggers

Interpersonal and group change processes at the senior or middle levelMerged or acquired functional


Reorganized departments


formed teams


of work or overlapping authority Communication or teamwork is lackingIndividual triggersReduced accountability and lack of initiative?

Feelings of being wrongly excluded from decisions or unplanned duplication of


Ineffective implementation of new



resistance to


Reducing role stress

Role ambiguity and

historical tensions are

potent sources of stress in the work

environment, associated

with a variety of negative attitudinal health and behavioral outcomes.

Thus, role clarification interventions can be used as stress control strategies. Slide12

Phase 1: definition of tasks and rolesSlide13

Phase 2: Developing the matrixThere can only be one person Accountable per activity.Make effort to have only one Responsible person per activity.

A Responsible person and an Accountable person must be assigned to every row.Place Accountability and Responsibility at the lowest level possible.

It is common to create the matrix for key stakeholders only


Microsoft offers a downloadable RACI template for free at


Actor 1

Actor 2

Actor 3

Actor 4

Activity or Decision 1

Activity or Decision 2

Activity or Decision 3

Activity or Decision 4

Activity or Decision 4

Activity or Decision 5


on high-impact activities first 


obvious /ambiguous tasks 

Between 10 – 25 activities is sufficient



activity/decision should begin with an action verb 

List people or roles relevant to listed decisions/tasksSlide14

Rules of thumbOperational setting:

Develop responsibility charts based on how processes and associated tasks are carried out,


according to the status and authority of the people who are listed against the process


Project management setting:

Use the tool to form project

teams and delegate tasks.  Use it as a reference point to check if things get done or don't happen.

Assign responsibility for each task to only one person.


having too many people with an approval-veto function on any single item. This will slow down task completion or will negate it altogether

The support


specific demands must be clarified and clearly assigned

Be prepared for discussion:

A person may want to exercise a veto on an item, but not really need it

A person may not want to support responsibility on an item, but should have it

Two people each want responsibility on a particular item, but only one can have


Responsibility Charting FAQAdvice from Learning Group Consultants

How do I know that Responsibility Charting is right for my client?As with so much of what we do, its important to understand the expectations for the tool. Why is it being used? Is the timing right? What are the expected benefits? Does the team (assuming in a team setting) have a good understanding of the tool? What is their experience with it? (I have seen the tool used well – and as a weapon, so good to know local history). – (David Tipton)

I was always selective about where I used RACI charting... Where I did use it was when groups had a history of contentiousness over role clarity, and the client embraced the idea of the chart. (Stephen Pile)


should I approach the use Responsibility Charting?

I have used the RASCI chart as part of an initiative or project (the RASCI chart has never been the project). I rarely use it explicitly with a client, however, the content of the RASCI chart is attended to in the process. I have found more and more, that when a chart or framework is explicitly used, it is "attended to" too superficially, rather than addressing the content in a meaningful and comprehensive way that is woven into the work at the appropriate point/stage. Much of the content is actually addressed at the start of any initiative when we discuss who needs to be involved, why, when and how. More and more of my clients are engaging the whole system and considering roles and integration of work right at the start. When this is done, the purpose and work of the RASCI chart is seamlessly integrated into discussions, decisions, and how everyone works together. So, rather than explicitly use the chart with a client, it is part of my facilitation of the discussions that take place with the client, and they learn the types of discussions and issues that need to be addressed during an initiative, which go beyond what is in the chart. (Jill Shaver)Slide16

Responsibility Charting FAQAdvice from Learning Group Consultants

How do I set the exercise up to improve the chances of a successful intervention?

The tool I prefer to use is the one I've co-designed with the client, beginning with RACI and adding a column or two and/or changing the names of the functions/stakeholders to fit the project and the organization.  (Stephen Pile)

Before hand, I prefer to work with the stakeholders mapping out their functional work-streams, looking and improving connections and timing, and gaining clarity about what defines the beginning, key checkpoints, and end. Key "tasks" are then fed into the Responsibility Chart *after* functional work is laid out in a beginning plan. (Stephen Pile)

Building on the above, the tool has been around for a while, so good to check on understanding – and make a case for building shared understanding, which some may not like, but I also recommend this not be the first time the imperative for needing shared understanding is made… This includes having a dialogue on RASCI in general, and where needed, at the task/job level as well. RASCI'S can get pretty granular, so good to judge what needs to be done as whole group vs. giving parts to subsets, let them work it, and then come back with recommendations. (David Tipton)

There's an opportunity for dialogue (and agreement) about what processes to chart, what tasks or functions to list, and what level of personnel to describe, as well as the purposes of the exercise for the group. This can be done with the whole group affected or sometimes in a small subset, and it is of course best done with those directly engaged in the process being considered. It's easy to describe tasks at too high or too micro a level, so getting the intention here right with the team up front is helpful. The items mapped should be at a manageable number, and not too many, for an effective conversation. I've found that ample time should be taken to get agreement on these pieces up front or the exercise tends to fall apart in practice. This can be done in a separate preparatory planning session or at the front end of the workshop, depending on scope, timing, and the situation. The second major opportunity for dialogue is in the facilitated workshop itself working thru the RACI chart. After session start-ups that describe and confirm agreement on the process and purpose of the exercise and the matrix itself, I've had each member, in a nominal technique, fill out the cells. These can then be reported out and displayed visually for all to see--then the differences aired and the rationales for each shared by each and worked through until understanding on roles and agreements for action are reached. This can take time, including discussing meaning and implications for each, so again, sufficient planning up front for this and flexibility in the facilitation is needed as the discussion unfolds. (Marty Goldberg)Slide17

Responsibility Charting FAQAdvice from Learning Group ConsultantsWhat group dynamics can I identify as I facilitate that would be indicators I’m getting off track?

The map is not the territory, i.e., clients can prematurely believe they've figured out roles, and quickly begin to ignore the chart when real work happens.  Given this, it is important to get them to discuss historically (or predicted) contentious issues and boundaries as they understand what the chart is really describing. (Stephen Pile)

I echo Steve's comments entirely that "the map is not the territory": the best use of the RACI tool is NOT simply to populate a set of cells that outline roles against tasks for a given process. Those can be populated all day long without much effect on any behavior or people's ways of looking at things. The trick is to use it as a device, or intervention, to engage people in a conversation about who does what, when, and why. Then, in David's spirit, to reach agreements on that for action. That can be accomplished in facilitated workshops often to good effect (presuming of course this is the right conversation a group wants and agrees to for the work it needs to do). (Marty Goldberg)

This tool often takes some time to do it right, and so there can be signals from the group that they are tired, getting distracted. I know this, so am able to fight my desire to ease their frustration. Along with this, and with many of these types of tools, be aware that it can quickly become the “tail wagging the dog”…so look for ways to assess what is going on in the room and help them address as needed. (David Tipton)

I agree you can see the group sometimes tire (and you yourself as facilitator) in working through what can become tedious. Also, as with many analytic type group exercises there can be tendency for the whole thing to become too "scientific" and the discussion elements lost, so flow and attention here to what's really happening, understanding key priorities and issues, not just mashing through the exercise, is key. (Marty Goldberg)

What do you do once the client has finished and agreed upon the Responsibility Chart?

Once the RASCI is done, I ask the group I am working with if it makes sense to do a review of how the RASCI is holding up – and what needs to be adapted, if revisiting the tool makes sense. Some groups like this, others find it a struggle. If that is the case, I ask them if verifying the roles downstream is important – and if so, what do they want to assess and how.  (David Tipton)

Following the exercise, revisiting how role interactions are working with the team over time (even more than checking the validity of the matrix) can reinforce key themes and


and further build the team and learning. (Marty Goldberg)Slide18

ReferencesHamilton, T.M. (1968). Clarifying Responsibility Relationships. California Management Review, 10(3), 41-52

Mcadam, Rodney & McIntyre, Seamus (1997) A business process improvement methodology which incorporates learning organization concepts. Total Quality Management, 8:2-3, 221-225