we're all OK: tweaking transactional analysis in project management

No, the purpose on this blog is not to elaborate on the “I'm OK, You're OK" practical guide to transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life, by Thomas A Harris. Nevertheless, as project managers, we can somehow benefit from its approach. It is accessible, and produces results which can scale to offer many affordable ways to deal with issues in the communications among the project team members. Especially because it can be used in group situations which will proof to be beneficiary for the entire project management team.

When building up the communication plans we all to quickly jump to the RACI matrix model trying to fit the team members in their "role boxes". Recently I came across a variation of the standard RACI: a RACI focused on decisions. This alternative is focused only on documenting who has the authority to make which decisions and may be suitable for use within a small work group:

  • recommends: responsible to recommend an answer to the decision.
  • approves: authorized to approve an answer to the decision.
  • consulted:  those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
  • informed: those who are informed after the decision is made; and with whom there is one-way communication.

This alternative is exactly what I would like to address. Somehow a project manager should tweak the standard versions of plans in such a way it fits the personalities of the project team members. If he can do, so the contributing element of the team members can be customized in such a way that they feel OK with what is expected from them. It gives team members the space and means to be creative and personal in their contributions.

It made me realize that under no circumstances we must forget the "Leitmotif" of ITIL: Do not do things for the sake of doing them but only do them when they deliver value ... and the value of each contributor is found within the best qualities of each contributor.

What do think? Do you use transactional analysis in your own project management activities?


Nicolas Jacquey
Ivo Geers

I have 14 years experience working in IT, five of which have been spent on project management.  I'm PMI certified, and am currently working on a 14,000 seat IP telephony project. I am located in Brussels.