Ever found yourself in the following scenario? You are in a meeting; you debate and finally agree on some course of action. Later you check in on the status — just to realize that the job wasn’t completed. You ask why it hasn’t been done yet; someone says, “I thought Joe needs to sign it off” or “We are waiting for Wendy” or “I didn’t realize I was supposed to do this”.
I can’t tell you how common this is…
It happens everywhere — from large mega-corp to three-people-in-a-garage startup. It is incredibly annoying. Especially as it is one of the easiest fixes out there — if, that is, you have the guts to apply the fix.
The magic three-letter combination which resolves this problem reliably and repeatedly is D.R.I. — Direct Responsible Individual. A term coined by Apple, it describes the single individual responsible for a particular decision or action. Assigning a DRI will eliminate all the malaise from above — but be warned: It also requires the organization and the individual to have guts and stand up for their decisions. Which is, in my view, the reason so few companies truly pull through with this concept. It sounds great on paper — but it is so much more comfortable to point to someone else when things don’t go quite as planned.
Establish the psychological safety for people to make mistakes and own up to them — and establish clear DRIs for everything you do. Communicate transparently who the DRI is and let her do her job. You might be surprised by how much better things work once you establish clear leadership and responsibility.