Assigning responsibility for a pitch can be a bit like throwing around a hot potato – no one wants to take ownership of it for very long. It’s not hard to understand why. Running a pitch can be grueling work – long hours, intense schedules, lots of moving parts, typically piled on top of someone’s day-to-day activities that already have them working at 110%.
Think of the most unpleasant pitches you’ve ever participated in. What do they have in common? Poorly defined roles and responsibilities.
Clear assignment of ownership and responsibility is the best way to make sure pandemonium and resentment don’t take over and there’s a wonderful tool out there to make it easier: the RASCI, or Responsibility Assignment, Matrix (HT to Avi Dan of Avidan Strategies, who first introduced the method to me). The acronym stands for:
- Responsible – the individual or team responsible for getting a task done. For example, you might assign someone on your team the responsibility of putting together a competitive analysis. They may do most of the work themselves, but they may also sub-delegate the leg work to their assistant. Either way, that assignee better be producing the goods. For any given pitch, there will likely be several people who are the “Responsibles” on the team.
- Accountable – What if that person responsible doesn’t produce? It’s the “Accountable’s” job to make sure that they do. You as the head of business development may be responsible for making sure the pitch runs smoothly but it’s your boss - and ultimately the CEO - that’s accountable for you doing so. This encourages a sense of shared investment in the outcome without muddying the lines of communication. Note: resist the temptation to make someone both responsible and accountable. That's not playing fair.
- Supporting – Understanding whether you’re playing a supporting role versus a role of responsibility can also offer great clarity. Supporters tend to be the resources allocated to help complete a task. Maybe your coordinator supports you by compiling and formatting all the info for the competitive analysis. Be clear with him about your expectations of where his job begins and ends.
- Consulting – A consulting role is someone like a subject matter expert, whether that’s a third party that you pay or a colleague with specific experience in that business category.
- Informed – Who needs to be kept apprised of progress or even problems? Maybe it’s the global CEO who has to show she’s on top of things when the chairman of the agency holding company calls and wants to know how the pitch is going. Typically, this is a one-way line of communication between a Responsible or Accountable and the Informed.
- Think of the most unpleasant pitches you’ve ever participated in. What do they have in common? Poorly defined roles and responsibilities. Why derail your next pitch with unclear direction and vague expectations, especially when they are within your control? Use the RASCI framework not only as a tool for you to implement your plans, but as a way for others to understand your intentions and use it themselves to manage their tasks.