DACI (pronounced day-see) is a framework that helps groups improve their decision making process velocity. It’s a system that was originally developed at Intuit and has gained momentum in fast-moving, cooperative companies that are systematically reinventing entire industries.
DACI is an acronym, with each letter standing for a different role that should be represented whenever coordinating a group decision. The main benefit of the DACI decision making model is that it clearly lays out who should be involved in specific decisions and how they should contribute. The beauty of DACI is that it removes the ambiguity that can lead to deferred responsibility or never-ending discussions when trying to make a hard decision. Effectively using the DACI framework can dramatically increase your team’s decision making efficiency.
Driver – The responsible individual that’s in charge of making sure the decision is made from start to finish. This person is in charge of coordinating all the stakeholders involved in a decision, gather the necessary information to move the decision making process forward, and communicating what happened back to all the stakeholders. Depending on the specific decision being made, this may not be the person who’s typically in charge of making decisions on a project. This isn’t the person in charge of making the decision, but is the person who’s in charge of making sure the decision making process stays on track.
The Driver’s tasks and responsibilities usually include:
- Scheduling the initial kick off meeting to define what needs to get done
- Collecting, documenting, and distributing ideas and feedback from internal and external stakeholders
- Setting the timeline of the decision, organizing follow up meetings, defining tasks that need to get done, and making sure the results of the decision can be measured.
- Communicating the end results to the rest of the people who need to be informed.
Approver – The person or people who make the final decision. Typically this is a manager, executive, or founder of the organization.
Contributor – Experts that the Driver can ask for help and perspectives. Typically these are subject matter experts who can provide outside counsel that inform the Approver’s decisions. These people have a voice in the decision and can influence what happens with their expertise, but don’t have a vote.
Informed – People who are informed of the final result. They typically don’t have any authority or input into the project, but generally should know what was decided.
Should DACI always be used when making decisions?
A good rule of thumb is that if a decision is going to affect multiple groups of people across different teams that are typically siloed, it’s a good idea to run the DACI framework. The process will provide the necessary context that people need to know why a decision was made and get on board with it quicker. There will also be documentation for anyone who needs to get up to speed on what decisions were made after the fact, which will help onboard new people faster to the team’s collective knowledge.
Running the DACI Framework
- Step 1: Setup your initial documentation for capturing DACI roles and defining the decisions that need to be made. This is important because it makes it much easier for stakeholders in the project to keep track of what’s going on, allows to you add other people to the project later on, and helps you stay organized (which makes you look good in front of your teammates)
- Step 2: Define the DACI roles to make it clear how the group will make decisions and who is responsible for what. This is somewhat meta, but you need to define what decisions needs to be made and define DACI roles for each one. You should document who is in what role, and share that information with everyone involved.
- Step 3: Spec out the project and assign start assigning that tasks that need to get done to make a decision. Think about all information and opinions you’ll need to gather for context. Write up a document that outlines what you’ll need to find out and from whom.
- Step 4: Start cooperating with your team to drive the decision forward. Get their input, document it, and share it with the other constituents in decision. Eventually you’ll feel like you’re not learning anything new or that your progress has plateaued. This is probably the point when you need to make a decision on what to do. If you’ve been documenting your decision making process along the way, you should have no problem getting the Approvers to make the final call. After the decisions been made, make sure to inform everyone involved of what happened.