At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what. Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible. “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee. “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”From “action items” to projects large and small, everything that needed to get done would have a DRI, someone to ensure success and take responsibility to deal with failure.
One thing that became very clear over the course of the Apple revolution from the late 1990s on upward was that the company had a very different culture than anywhere else, shaped and built around Steve Jobs’ personality and vision. One of the most powerful, yet simple tools Jobs used to create Apple’s culture of high quality outcomes was the “DRI” – the Designated Responsible Individual. While Ron LaFleur, a management consultant to the Apple software organization in the early 1990’s may have coined the “DRI” concept (1, 2), Jobs’ put the concept into practice throughout Apple. Fortune magazine’s 2011 insightful article on Jobs’ management methods explains it well: