Ownership, roles and responsibilities

January 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

Ownership over a project or task is important to clarify. Clear roles and responsibilities increase efficiency and effectiveness. More importantly, it creates accountability which means that stuff will actually get done.

When explaining the importance of roles, I typically rely on the OARP framework. I prefer OARP to other models (e.g., RASCI) mostly because I’ve used it more and it’s what I’m used to. But what I really like about OARP is the choice of language: Owner and Participant are explicitly called out. Those are the two most confused roles (though they’re the farthest apart when it comes to responsibility) when it comes to any given project.

OARP framework 1

For meetings, everyone in the room should know who owns the decision, who is there for their expertise, and who is just there to listen so that they’re in the loop (I prefer to leave this last group out of the meeting entirely, and instead sending a summary email as follow up).

In 2008 I performed a 6-month consulting engagement with a Fortune 500 company that had this completely wrong. Everything took forever to do, each deliverable was owned by at least two different teams, and no one had any idea what anyone else really did. It was a mess, and a pain to fix.

We painstakingly went through every deliverable for the department that we were serving and outlined which individuals and/or teams fit into each role. They hated us while we were doing it, but were very grateful for the end result. It simplified all of their lives.

I’ve too often seen ownership and accountability diluted to the point where nothing gets done, and there’s no trail to figure out what went wrong. On your next day at work, ask yourself who on your current project team fits into which role, and share that with the rest of your team. Trust me, it goes a long way.

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About Me

I'm a San Francisco-based strategic thinker who believes that life is only as great as the people you choose to interact with. I love people, and studying business has given me greater insight into how to most effectively develop myself, and my personal relationships. I look forward to discussing people and business with those that find this area as fascinating as I do.

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