The kind of accountability most of us are familiar with is direct accountability: a role is assigned a task and is directly accountable for their result. The role understands the quality, quantity, timeframe, and resource constraints of the deliverable and has the authority to implement plans to achieve it. When completing a RACI this is what we mean by accountability.
Ideally, the individual with direct accountability has the context to understand the limits in which they must work and sufficient knowledge about all of the factors that must be considered to make good decisions. However, that’s not always the case, and for this reason, organizations need to establish lateral roles of indirect accountability to ensure these factors are brought to the attention of the role with direct accountability.
Indirect roles are responsible for initiating action toward directly accountable roles. Indirect roles may be responsible for:
- Informing: being aware of the factors surrounding the direct and initiating contact to offer advice and recommendations.
- Persuading: persuading the direct to adjust their actions when there is a risk of undermining process control or when multiple roles fail to work together effectively.
- Instructing: ordering the direct to stop when working outside of limits and/or take prescribed action to mitigate a catastrophic event.
- Responding: Provide the direct service and support
Often these indirects are accountable in a supporting process.