How Instagram Uses the RACI Model to Make Decisions and Boost Transparency

When Instagram’s head of engineering James Everingham noticed his team’s transparency score was lagging, he discovered that an unclear decision-making framework was a big part of the problem. So Everingham implemented the RACI decision-making model as part of his efforts to improve his team’s culture and productivity. The RACI model is a tool that identifies everyone’s roles on a project: who is Responsible for doing the work, who is Accountable for making the decision, who should be Consulted before making the decision, and who should be informed about the Resulting decision.

Everingham’s efforts to clarify roles paid off: Instagram experienced a 10% increase in their leadership transparency score in just six months. Here’s how the RACI model helped improved transparent decision-making:

  • Responsible: Everingham found that by identifying the responsibilities involved in each decision, his team had a clearer understanding of the “who” that would drive the process. By creating a matrix of responsibility, each person is aware of expectations and is more likely to surpass them.

  • Accountable: Everingham recommends limiting yourself to single accountable decision-makers whenever possible to simplify the process. These are the folks that will ensure that the responsible parties get things done. But as you clarify accountability roles, be aware of bias. Sometimes as a leader, you may need to recuse yourself from certain decisions if you aren’t certain you can maintain an unbiased approach.

  • Consulted: It may seem like common sense, but remember that consulting the people a decision will impact ahead of time can reduce politics and allow people to feel heard. By gathering diverse input from various stakeholders, you’ll be empowered to make the best decisions and enhance the transparency in your culture.

  • Informed: Everingham points out that there’s a difference between transparency and involvement, so you can inform colleagues about decisions without having to directly include them in the deciding vote. Plus, if you’re clear about your business goals from the outset, your team will understand how your decisions support your priorities.

Takeaway: If you’re a startup with a small team, you might think it’s too soon to start focusing on solidifying your decision-making process. But by embedding these norms into your culture from the beginning, you’ll build a strong foundation of transparency that will serve you as you grow. Keep in mind that these processes don’t need to be set in stone; always encourage feedback and reorganize your structure when necessary.

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