Using RACI in Design Management
A scalable system to manage your growing team.
As a director, leader, and manager, it’s my job to ensure that our designers are set up for success. One key part of that is having a clear, scalable system for communicating and tracking the responsibilities of each member of the team.
When the design team was small, I could track each designer’s work and the overall team needs, starting with a basic breakdown of responsibilities, like this:
But as the team grew, tracking each of these responsibilities across a larger team structure got a little complicated, as did the org chart:
To get organized, I borrowed a product management framework called the RACI matrix. RACI stands for:
- Responsible: The person who does the task.
- Accountable: The person accountable for the completion of the task.
- Consulted: The person who gives critical input for the doing of the task.
- Informed: The person who doesn’t necessarily affect the task but needs to be kept in the loop.
Here’s how I applied it to a common change all managers experience — gaining a new report.
How to apply RACI
Let’s take a look at a real-life example. One of my IC reports has become a new manager, and a designer who reported to me will now report to them. What happens when something straightforward like a one-on-one needs to be transferred? I map out the change in ownership in each RACI category like this:
New manager: Sets up one-on-ones with their new report. They are the one who will hold the meeting and ensure it is completed.
Manager: Schedules skip-level one-on-ones. It is important to know how the new report is doing because I am accountable for the overall team growth and health.
New manager: Accountable for supporting that report’s performance, growth, and goals.
Manager: Accountable for the overall team health and performance in order to make course corrections when necessary.
New manager: Is consulted on all recommendations for promotions on the team and gives input on pros and cons.
Manager: Is consulted with when discussing report’s performance, including recommendations for promotion.
New manager: Is informed when colleagues share feedback on their report.
Manager: Is informed about the report’s progress during manager-manager one-on-ones.
Repeat and scale
You can repeat this exercise across the set of responsibilities, whether you’re the sole manager or on a team of management tiers.
With the RACI framework, I can count on communication and accountability between all levels of management on the design team. It’s super simple, and it works well anytime you’re working with or relying on other people. If using responsibility or decision-making frameworks is your jam, check out RASCI and DACI for more.
Suzy Cho (she/her) is Director, Product Design at Postlight. Looking to bring your digital product to life? Get in touch.
Story published on Sep 14, 2022.