Decides instead of "Responsible."
Responsible is too vague, and easily shifts "up" the org, all the way to the CEO. At the end of the day, are they not ultimately responsible for what happens in the organization? Decides, on the other hand, is specific. Identifying and shifting who decides about what (and how) is the most powerful tool in the structuring of work, and we deserve specific words that push us to make these kinds of choices.
Executes instead of "Accountable."
Accountable, again, is too vague. It's also unreasonable for someone who is Accountable to not also be Responsible, and vice-versa. Executes is exceptionally clear: it's the person or team that actually does the thing. Writes the deck. Washes the tomatoes. Writes the check to the vendor. Updates the page on the website.
"Informed" and "Consulted" get to stay
These are quite clear, especially once we get precise with Decides and Executes.
We inform folks of decisions and actions not out of courtesy, but because it's important that they're aware of what's going on.
We consult folks when we decide or act not because they can stop us, or slow us down, but because we need their valuable advice.
Flagging these individuals or teams in a DICE matrix is also useful: it allows for the easy creation of a stakeholder comms or relationship-building plan. When teams use RACI, I tend to see "Cs" that are actually "Ds," and the utility of the matrix begins to wash away into a hazy ocean of inaction.
Push Decisions close to Execution
Situation 1 is obviously laughable: the CEO deciding something that happens on the shop or office floor is a ridiculous misappropriation of scarce time and resources.
Situation 2 feels harmonious and normal: line managers making decisions and shop/office floor personnel taking action. We've pushed authority quite far out to the customer-facing edge of the organization. We're moving fast with good feedback.
When might we want Situations 3 and 4? Situation 3 would feel appropriate for things where coordination isn't just good, but necessary. Pricing, product mix, salaries, application of brand guidelines, promotional calendars – these are all things where (especially for a larger company, spanning many geographies and/or categories) it makes good sense to have GMs deciding alongside each other, rather than devolving the choice to line or local management. We might not want customers to find a completely different experience or price simply because they crossed over into a different region. Or we might want some variance, but with central management and guidance.
Situation 4 is useful only for the most consequential, most irreversible decisions. Committing to hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising expenditure. Buying a plant. Relocating a facility. In each of these situations, some local manager is acting on a decision made at the executive level. (Language is funny here again: executives deciding and managers executing.)
Context counts. So does form
I've observed that many larger, older organizations revert to pushing decisions "up" the organization in favor of central coordination and limited local control. I'm not so sure this is a valuable strategic choice so much as it is a response to ridigity, poor knowledge management, and proxies.
If it's hard (for whatever reason) for local units to coordinate, work in public, pull best practices from one another, etc., then of course we're going to have unrewarded differences in product or service experience as customers cross different organizational boundaries. Why not just make that coordination and communication easier? Why not reward the cooperative? Harder than centralizing, to be sure, but better in the long run.
Some of these difficulties are about the context around the org – distribution channels, competitors, regulations, method of production, etc. – and are somewhat difficult to change. Some are about the chosen form of the organization – approach to teams, customers and processes, technologies, etc. – and are easier to change. But it's all changeable! Shift the form, shift the context, and aim for decisions to be as close to the execution as possible.