Risk Management is not Project Management | Rucker’s Musings:
One can run, hide, look away, and be as willfully ignorant as possible, but it will not change reality - “the task” is challenging and must be done. One can shift most of the responsibility and accountability to a 3rd party, but not all of the accountability. In this context, the client, specifically the project owner, is always responsible for project completion and success. Leadership should never accept external accountability without internal accountability. This is not to say that one cannot share, or should not share, accountability; however, again, one cannot have only external accountability.
I see this pattern pretty regularly in my line of work, and it is not limited to companies trying to offload accountability onto a third-party vendor; it happens all the time among internal teams as well.
I tend to this what is happening here is that leaders are attempting to commodify delivery. Rather than working together with the team toward a common set of objectives, they are trying to turn it into a contract. The RACI here is not all that much different than an SLA… an attempt to codify the relationship so as to be able to point back to a document at some point in the future as evidence for whether everyone did their proper job.
This behavior comes for the same mindset that finds people pointing to detailed requirements written up early in the planning phase of a project and then engaging in a legalistic argument about whether those requirements were completed rather than keeping an eye on whether we got the value we were expecting to get out of the delivery.