DACI Roles & Responsibilities
the DACI framework is a simple, yet effective way to quickly identify roles and responsibilities in a decision making process. Though there are certainly other methods, the DACI framework, made popular by Intuit and Atlassian, is simple and operates well at scale.
There are alternatives to the DACI framework:
- RACI: This is a familiar framework because it was the precursor to DACI used extensively in project management.
- RAPID®: Developed by BAIN and used at companies like LinkedIn and Coinbase, this framework is more extensive than DACI and goes beyond roles and responsibilities.
Back to DACI - the framework itself is quite simple. There are four core roles in the decision making process that outline specific responsibilities:
'Driver' is often misinterpreted as the person or group asking for the decision to be made. In reality, this role is responsible for managing the process. The driver will help frame the decision, get the team onboard with a process, setup the right meetings and quite literally 'drive' the decision from start to finish.
There may be multiple drivers if a much larger decision needs quite a bit of coordination, but decisions can typically be managed with a single driver. Someone organized and plan-oriented like a Program Manager typically makes a good driver.
It's often helpful to choose an individual without a horse in the race or create a role within the organization to identify and drive core decisions.
Approvers is self explanatory, these contributors are the ultimate decision makers. Approvers can contribute to the decision making process, but keep in mind that this role is the most prone to bias in the process.
When selecting approvers, keep bias in mind. Though there can be multiple approvers, try to keep less cooks in the kitchen if possible. If there are multiple approvers, make sure to set the 'rules of engagement'; for example, does majority approve the decision or does it have to be unanimous? How will you handle a split decision?
The goal here is not to create a committee of approvers that seek consensus. It’s to make authority clear.
Contributors will be doing most of the legwork in the process. They're responsible for actively framing proposals and submitting/weighing options. Contributors are not necessarily all the same. There are various ways contributors can be segmented, but in this scope, we propose three categories - outside experts, insiders or facilitators.
Outside Experts: may not be generating ideas and plans, but they'll be able to poke holes or provide a unique perspective. They bring the ‘outside view’ information to the dialog.
Insiders: are typically the most biased group because they’re in the throws of this decision. They are impacted in some way. Though they don't have an issue diverging on ideas, they're often anchored to their own ‘inside view’ and are prone to support their own opinions. They have a horse in the race.
Facilitators: ask questions and remove bias. They often take a more objective viewpoint and help clarify.
This is a simple way to segment contributors and doesn’t take into account contributor traits, but generally aligns with the various perspectives.
The informed group will not contribute to the decision making process, but the decision made might impact them - or they're simply just curious. People can either be added to the informed group by those involved in the decision or people can flag themselves as informed.
Drivers should have a plan for how to keep this group informed. Will there be meetings? Videos? Blogs? There needs to be a vehicle for letting this group know what is going on and what the final decision is, even if they do not have direct influence in the process.
The more transparency into the process, the better.
How to get started?
Utilizing a decision log that has some built-in functionality for tagging and notifying is a great first step to document and drive decisions.
When outlining the decision be explicit on what the roles are, what the exceptions are around them, and who has those roles. It's more of an art than a science to form a team with diverse viewpoints to produce the best outcome.
Keep in mind that bias is present even when forming the team. Make sure people are included that will foster discord. Disagreeableness is a feature, not a bug. Include people you aren't socially close with, include people from other disciplines, and most importantly, include people you know will have a differing opinion.