A recent Fortune article describes how Steve Jobs and Apple use the concept of a “directly responsible individual,” referred to as the DRI within Apple. With every project, there is one specific person, the DRI, who is totally responsible for its success or failure.
In business schools today, there is excessive emphasis on teams. Academia seems to think everything should be done via teams and that the tough decisions should be made via team compromises. If you are trying to innovate, or implement a significant change, consensus is disastrous. You risk eliminating the distinct and new features. Remember, if you try to make a unique idea acceptable to everyone, you end up with an average idea.
So…what are the key takeaways here?
• With every project that deals with innovation or change, use the DRI concept; name someone who goes to bed at night worrying that he or she is going to be a failure if this thing doesn’t become a success.
• Make it clear to the troops how the project is going to be run and who is the DRI.
• Use teams when you need to improve a process. Team members should represent the various skills needed to handle certain aspects of a process. Process improvement tools like Japanese Total Quality and Six Sigma brought the team concept to the American workplace but unfortunately, many folks attempt to apply the team notion everywhere.
Ever been assigned to a project where it really wasn’t clear who the leader was. Frustrating, right?