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Documenting Team Accountability

share written on whiteboard

In our article, The Case for Team Accountability, we looked at reasons why shared team accountability promotes project success. But how do you keep track of who’s accountable for each deliverable?

Our Matrix Management 2.0™ Team Accountability Chart is a simple tool for documenting both team and individual accountability. It eliminates micro-managing and empowers team members to understand exactly what they’re accountable for.

It’s scalable for small teams or large teams and can be used for subteams that feed into larger teams. And it isn’t limited to project teams. The Team Accountability Chart can also be used by governance teams, business process teams and functional teams—any team that needs to track accountability for the team outcome and each deliverable that feeds into it.

Download the Matrix Management 2.0™ Team Accountability Word Template

Charting Team Accountability

In our example, the team outcome is ready to launch a software application.

IA = Individual Accountability | TA = Team Accountability

Team Leader:

Steve

Team Member:

Judy

Team Member:

Kyle

Team Member:

Michael

Team Member:

Chris

Team Member:

Teresa

Team Outcome:

Ready to Launch Software Application

IATATATATATA

Deliverable:

User Interface Design

IA

Deliverable:

Report Design

IA

Deliverable:

Database Design

IA

Deliverable:

User Acceptance Test Plan

IA

Deliverable:

Training Documentation

TAIA

Team Outcome

The team outcome is the reason the team exists. Our Team Accountability Chart fosters alignment to the outcome the team needs to produce by clearly identifying who’s accountable for it and what type of accountability they have.

The team leader is the only person who has individual accountability for the team outcome. In our example, Steve has individual accountability for the team outcome. On the other hand, each team member has team accountability. In other words, team members share accountability for the team outcome with the team leader.

Interim Deliverables

Teams achieve outcomes by successfully completing interim deliverables. Just as the team leader is the only person who has individual accountability for the team outcome, one and only one team member has individual accountability for each interim deliverable. When team members collaborate on an interim deliverable, they share team accountability for that deliverable.

For example, Kyle has individual accountability for the Report Design. However, since he is also collaborating on the Training Documentation, he shares team accountability for that deliverable as well.

And, that’s it! You’ve documented who has individual accountability and who shares team accountability for each interim deliverable.
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Four Rules of Team Accountability

Following these four rules of matrix team accountability sets the stage for empowered team members to take ownership of the team’s outcome and ensure successful delivery.

  1. Only the team leader has individual accountability for the team’s outcome.
  2. All team members share team accountability for the team’s outcome.
  3. Only one team member has individual accountability for each interim deliverable.
  4. Team members share team accountability for interim deliverables they collaborate on.

How Is Our Tool Different from Others?

Our Team Accountability Chart requires only the most critical pieces of information—what deliverables are we accountable for and who is accountable for each?

Other accountability tools capture additional detail that may appear to clarify what’s happening. In practice, this becomes an exercise in micromanaging the team and tracking more information than is truly necessary to produce the desired outcome.

Compare our Team Accountability Chart with another tool often used to document who’s who when it comes to team outcomes—the RACI diagram. A RACI diagram documents who’s Responsible (R), who’s Accountable (A), who must be Consulted (C), and who must be Informed (I) for each and every interim deliverable.

Outcome

TL

TM

TM

TM

TM

TM

HR

OPS

IT

EXEC

Deliverable

AA/RIIICCCI

Deliverable

AA/RIICCCC

Deliverable

AARICC

Deliverable

AIIA/RIIICI

Deliverable

ACAIRCCCI

Top Three Differences

  1. The RACI diagram doesn’t include shared team accountability for the team outcome. The team outcome is not even shown as a deliverable with any accountability.
    Our Team Accountability Chart puts the team outcome first and makes it very clear that the team leader has individual accountability and all team members share team accountability for producing it.
  2. The RACI diagram allows more than one person to have individual accountability for a single deliverable. This creates confusion about who’s really accountable.
    Using our tool, only one person has individual accountability for each deliverable, although more than one person can share team accountability. This clarifies who has individual accountability to make sure the deliverable is produced as well as who’s sharing team accountability.
  3. The RACI diagram requires that you document not only who’s accountable, but who’s responsible (R), who has to be consulted (C) and who has to be informed (I).
    We don’t believe you need to manage the R, the C and the I for each deliverable. Any well-defined, collaborative project management process documents reviews and approvals. Our tool requires that you document only accountability.

Document Team Accountability the Easier Way

There are lots of tools out there to document who’s accountable for what on a team. Why not choose a tool that makes your life easier? One that requires only the information you need to successfully document team accountability. And one designed to empower team members to share ownership of the team outcome.

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Cathy Cassidy

Cathy Cassidy

As the Managing Director of the International Matrix Management Institute, Cathy helps organizations and practitioners adopt the skills and methods they need to succeed in today’s complex, dynamic environment. She is a Matrix Management 2.0™ Master Consultant and the author of several books on matrix management, including her most recent publication, Managing Projects in a Matrix. She is a key contributor to the Matrix Management 2.0™ Body of Knowledge, co-developer of the Matrix Management 2.0™ organizational operating system, and a lead developer for the company.

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