The DACI framework helps you make group decisions efficiently and effectively. Read on for instructions (and don't miss the real-life example in step 4!).
USE THIS PLAY TO...
Define roles for making high-impact or high-risk group decisions.
4 - 8
BUT FIRST, THIS
WHAT DOES "DACI" STAND FOR?
- D = Driver. The one person responsible for corralling stakeholders, collating all the necessary information and getting a decision made by the agreed date. This may or may not be the project's full-time owner, depending on the decision.
- A = Approver. The one person who makes the decision.
- C = Contributors. They have knowledge or expertise that may influence the decision – i.e., they have a voice, but no vote.
- I = Informed. They are informed of the final decision.
The DACI only works if everyone in the group rallies behind decisions once they're made – even if they don't agree. Without a willingness to share concerns and trust they'll be considered, your team will find itself mired in a bog of circular debates and inaction. Team members may even pursue their preferred option on the sly, in the hopes the official decision is a failure. Make sure everyone is prepared to fully committed to whatever is decided so you can skip the bullshit politics.
"DOES THIS NEED A DACI?"
It's a question we often find ourselves asking.
As you consider whether a group decision needs the full-on DACI treatment, take the timeliness and impact into account. Decisions that affect the work of multiple people on the project (e.g. "Where should we hold our user conference next year?") probably need a DACI. Smaller, isolated decisions (e.g., "What will the conference's social media hashtag be?") do not.
Define roles for the group decision (10 min)
Who is the driver?
Agree on one person per decision. They don't necessarily drive the entire project – just that decision.
Who is the approver?
Again, one person per decision.
Who are the contributors?
This may be multiple people per decision, and may even include someone from outside the core team. Anyone with relevant knowledge or experience is fair game.
Who should be informed?
This is anyone directly affected by the decision. Note that this may include people outside the core team.
Ask questions like "If the driver is away, who would they delegate to?" and "Do we have too many people who need to be consulted?". Adjust your DACI accordingly.
Make your plan of attack (15 min)
Think about all the information you'll need to gather in order to make the decision. If you're not using the DACI blueprint for Confluence, mark off the following sections on your page. You don't need to fill them out right now, but feel free to add notes in each one.
- Due date – the deadline for making the decision.
- Background – the reason(s) this decision is required.
- Current state – where you're at right now.
- Supporting data – the research you've done to inform your decision.
- Options considered – a table with a column for each option where you can summarise pros n' cons, risks, trade-offs, estimated cost or effort, etc.
- Recommendations – opinions from your contributors.
- FAQs – a place to answer frequently-asked (or anticipated) questions.
- References – a list of links out to reference material, along with a brief description of why it's relevant.
- Action items – a list of tasks or follow-ups related to the decision.
- Outcome – a place to state which option you ultimately go with.
Not ready yet?
Get the scoop from an Atlassian development team who uses DACI, and other cool techniques, to tackle their toughest decisions.
In the context of providing services like desktop support or recruiting, a matrix of DACIs helps front-line service team members understand which calls they can make independently and when they should involve teammates or a manager. Note that the full decision page described above isn't needed for each decision in your matrix. A brief description, plus the D, A, Cs, and Is for each scenario is usually enough.
Create a DACI matrix on a per-service basis (vs. a per-project basis). Think of your deliverable as a set of escalation paths and procedures for communicating information after those independent decisions are made.
A service team's DACI matrix is relatively static, but it's not carved in stone. Review and revise your DACI annually for services that are established and stable. For new service teams, we like to review the DACI quarterly or twice-yearly during the first year.
Optional. Larger initiatives that affect multiple groups or departments (lookin' at you, leadership teams!) often benefit from a decision register page. It serves as a portal that makes it easy for team members and stakeholders to access detailed information about each decision.
On your decision register, include a brief summary of the project (such as your elevator pitch). Below that, link off to the page detailing each decision. Also note each decision's status, level of impact, driver, approver, and due date. You might also include a legend defining important terms – e.g., what exactly does it mean when a decision is labeled "high impact".
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