Why a RACI-Matrix is evil and what can be an alternative to create true responsibility.

Submitted by Peter Beck on 12/07/2022

A RACI matrix is a static schema of who is accountable or responsible for defined tasks. It is also documenting who needs to be informed or consulted. All in all, it is a description of the delegation of work in an organization.

Unfortunately, a RACI is most probably establishing a blaming culture. It is often used to prove that someone did not his or her job right. Furthermore, is a RACI matrix instantly outdated because goals and the process are continuously changing. So in the end, when employees acting in the best interest, they're often violating what is defined in the RACI matrix. The resulting culture will hold people back to openly discuss the root problems, learn from them, and improve the work system instantly to prevent future dysfunctions.

As an Alternative to a RACI matrix, I recommend to set common objectives for all employees and a system where people pull the work accordingly to the situation at hand. This creates a real sense of responsibility because people make the decisions to act by themselves and experience the results of their doing.

The Agile Framework Scrum has deeply embedded this principle and offers therefore an alternative to a RACI matrix. It defines a minimal set of accountabilities to provide guidance. On the other side, it keeps enough space that self-management can enfold. It also establishes a mechanism so that dysfunctions and misbehavior become transparent early, addressed respectfully, and people can adapt continuously.

Within the Scrum framework, delegating decisions and taking responsibility is a fluid and dynamic process. This is the opposite of the idea of using a RACI matrix to define this once and forever. Teams like to use the retrospective to clarify the basic cooperation. We have designed the Scrum Delegation Game for this purpose.

Peter Beck

About the author

Peter Beck

Peter has set himself the task of creating companies that deliver value for their customers and employees. That was also the motivation behind his decision to found DasScrumTeam. Peter is a passionate Scrum Trainer (Certified Scrum Trainer, CST) and consultant with a solid background in engineering. Since 2007, he has trained and advised a wide range of development teams, specialist departments, project managers and those in leadership positions, helping them to apply the Scrum framework, agile planning methods and software engineering practices. Peter is a graduate engineer (Dipl.-Ing, TU) specialising in electrical engineering and information technology.

  • Experience with Scrum since 2004 as Team member, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Coach and Trainer.
  • Served as ScrumMaster in internationally distributed Scrum Teams
  • Co-founder and Product Owner at DasScrumTeam AG
  • Key interests: Agile companies and Scrum beyond Software

Always up to date with the DasScrumTeam newsletter.

The best in terms of Scrum. Once a month. Every month.