Innovation inside a corporation often cuts against the grain of entrenched processes, as it can carry uncomfortable levels of complexity, risk, and uncertainty that the organization is not accustomed to managing. Just as with any other business process, a well-run corporate innovation program requires structure and discipline to consistently produce results.
A RASCI matrix is a tool that can be used to build consistent support for innovation, while mitigating against common failure modes like role ambiguity, when people aren’t sure what exactly they’re supposed to do or want to weigh in more than you’d like.
I built a sample RASCI matrix for a generic “innovation project,” which you can download in Excel form below, to show how typical tasks might be assigned to various roles throughout the life of the project. I’ve color-coded things to show how the color coding works, but your coding will be different.
To adapt this RASCI matrix for use in your organization, follow these simple steps:
- Survey your organization for the complete set of stakeholders in a given innovation project
- Map out all of the project stages and tasks associated with innovation in your organization
- On the vertical axis of the matrix, list all of the innovation tasks/stages
- On the the horizontal axis of the matrix, list the set of roles required to complete the work
- Then, for each task populate the matrix with the letters R, A, S, C, and I by determining:
- Who is the single ACCOUNTABLE resource (“A”) who has yes/no authority and is on the hook for the task
- Who is RESPONSIBLE for executing the task (“R”)? Typically, there is only one responsible resource, and this may be the same as the accountable resource
- Who will SUPPORT (“S”) the responsible resource in the execution of the task? There may be several support resources.
- Who else may be CONSULTED (“C”) on a various task? These are resources who may weigh in, or provide input or guidance on a task.
- Who should be INFORMED (“I”) of the progress or output of that task?
- Finally review the matrix with all resources. Some questions to consider at this step include:
- Does everyone buy-in to and agree with their tasks?
- Does each resource truly need to be informed/consulted at each step? How can this be minimized as to not impede rapid progress?
- What exceptions might arise?
- Are any of the resources overburdened or underutilized?
- Is there opportunity to stretch someone to be responsible for a task they typically wouldn’t perform?
The tool can be as detailed or as simple as needed for the intended audience. You may want to remove some groups — for instance, if you’re not using an external consultancy or freelancers — to streamline the document.
Ultimately, use of the RASCI matrix may not eliminate risk or uncertainty, but it should reduce complexity by improving the transparency of innovation projects, and clarifying roles and responsibilities.
Aaron Proietti is a Contributing Writer and Former Innovation SVP and Chief Customer Advocate, Transamerica.