Write Down Who Can Do or Approve What

It’s not much fun to carve out time to write things down about who can do what — there are many more fun things leaders can do. But if you don’t invest the time in that, then the people who work for you, and colleagues outside of your team, will also be anxious and confused about who has what authority.

Organizations, and individual teams within organizations, have very difficult cultures. There’s a great book Reinventing Organizations that talks about various types of organizational cultures and their trade-offs. Approaches vary widely from highly structured, top-down approaches to very decentralized approaches (Holocracy is a fascinating denaturalized approach with strong governance to manage who steps into what roles, and keeps things running), and many variants in between.

Below is one approach to quickly use a document (a wiki is great for this, as it will evolve often over time) to communicate roles and their associated responsibilities and authorities, along with other relevant information such as recommended professional resources for someone who wants to move into that role in the future.

Roles, Responsibilities, and Authority Matrix (RRAM)


RRAM enables two key things:

1. Ccommunication of who can do or approve what, which enables the team to move quickly

2. Effective continuity planning, illuminating what needs to be transferred during an extended leave or someone leaving the organization

Separation of Duties Guidance

Define rules such as certain people who cannot act as approvers when someone is out, because it’s a conflict of interest with their responsibilities



  • This table defines roles, not just job titles, so there should be more roles than people in your team. Many people will act in several roles, and roles can be transferred to other team members as appropriate.
  • Make sure you define how the RRAM can be changed (who can do it when?) and how changes are communicated
Dept / GroupRoleOwner (Current Job Title or Name)ResponsibilitiesAuthority (e.g. Approval)Recommended Professional Resources
ITInfrastructure Team LeadInfrastructure Senior Manager (Jeff)* Act as Product Owner to identify, groom, and prioritize items in this team’s backlog
* Monitor and administer IT systems that are categorized as Infrastructure in CMDB
* Collaborate with CIO on identifying roadmap items for INFR, and refine/groom, decompose, estimate, and plan tasks
* Vote in Change Advisory Board
* Approve Infrastructure Purchase Requests below $3,000
* HBR Effective Executive article
* MS Ignite Conference Videos
ITChange Advisory Board (CAB) CoordinatorQuality Associate (Ralph)* Send out and maintain meeting invites for CAB
* Prepare agenda for each CAB and “drive” the screen-sharing during meetings, under guidance of Infrastructure Team Lead
* Capture, publish, and email out CAB meeting notes including the action items table

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