Directly Responsible Individual

Apple released one if it's high-level VP's yesterday, Scott Forstall, who was the head of iOS design and development. Forstall was the brain behind the iPhone's software from the beginning, and in large part a contributor to its wild success. But even after a trail of "wins," he has been let go. What happened?

You probably saw in the news that the latest version of the iPhone software included a new Maps application. This new Maps software was built from the ground up by Apple, and overseen by Scott Forstall. 

It is a failure. The new Maps have given people incorrect directions, is missing data and locations in every country, and its reliability is seriously questioned. The new Maps is so bad, CEO Tim Cook had to issue a formal apology, and even went as far as suggesting iPhone owners use a different maps application from the App Store. 

One of the legacies Steve Jobs has left with the company was exemplified: DRI.

Directly Responsible Individual

Steve Jobs strongly believed in this model, and I believe it should be practiced in many business situations. Maps is a failure, Scott Forstall was the head of Maps, therefore he is directly responsible. It's that simple.

While this may seem harsh, I want to recall a story from college. As a music major I was a part of several ensembles, and the nature of an ensemble is to rely on those around you to perform well. While most musicians performed adequately, there were a few that didn't have it together.

When the musical piece suffered due to a few individuals not playing their part, a majority of the time our director would lecture the entire ensemble. He did this to not single-out the few culprits. The problem is, the entire ensemble is ridiculed and we leave not knowing who is directly responsible.

Harsh or not, singling out and putting direct responsibility on a person or team brings clarity of communication, eliminates confusion, and will be more effective in the long run. DRI does not have to be overbearing, cruel, or demeaning, but it should be clear, direct and concise. These are the three factors that make any communication effective.

Direct | Clear | Conscise