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Change Elemental

One of the most difficult areas for groups to negotiate as they begin to delegate and share leadership is decision-making – who, what and how. Groups may begin with sound goals, values, support, and other resources and capacities. As more people around an issue or project have knowledge and feel empowered, it can lead to less certainty about who has the “final say,” who’s responsible for moving work forward, or if people are involved at the appropriate level. If there is not shared clarity about roles and processes, the group’s objectives, timelines and eventually trust may begin to slip. Similarly, if a difficult decision needs to be made and there is no clear process for making it, confusion and resentment can build up when a final decision is made by a few without attention to the rest of the group. 

What It Is

D – Decision

Who is the person or group that makes the ultimate or critical decision and if it’s a group, how will they make it (consensus, simple majority, 2/3s majority…)?

A – Accountable

Who is the person (or group) that is ultimately accountable for making sure the project is accomplished? (This is not necessarily the same person who actually does the work/project.)

R – Responsible

Who is responsible for carrying out the work for this project?

C – Consultant

Who should have input into the process or be consulted on specific elements of the project but isn’t necessarily responsible for completing the work?

I – Informed

Who needs to be regularly informed about the process and about the decision but is not responsible for the project or giving input?

I – Impacted

Who may not fit into the other roles but will be significantly impacted by the decision (e.g. community members)? 


  • Some questions or decision points may not have information for each of the categories.  The point is to consider each category and fill in accordingly.
  • Identify someone to serve the role of reminding people of upcoming due dates and responsibilities as described by your DARCII grid.  In a committee setting, this could be the chair, or, if you have a secretary, this could be a function for them too, though anyone could take on this role.
  • Share the DARCII analysis grid with all people who are affected by it, and whenever possible invite people to be a part of completing it or suggesting revisions.
  • Adapt it so it makes sense for your context!
  • This can be a temporary crutch.  Once you are used to thinking about adaptive and/or complex challenges (i.e., challenges that are best solved by the group of people with the challenge rather than a single person or few people with a high level of authority) from the perspective of these roles, you probably won’t need to use the tool explicitly or all the time.  It’s good to have as a resource for people new to the project, initiative or organization. 


Using DARCII and deciding on a process (consensus, simple majority, 2/3s majority…) takes more time especially when combined with implementing more open communication practices. However, every organization and initiative who has used the tool has reported that work is more effective in the long run as a result.  It can lead to more impact as their decisions tend to be better informed and closer to the ground with more parties invested in making the decision work as a result of being engaged in the solution process.

Image by Jomesh PA | CC BY 2.0

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