The Path to "Interdependence"

07.05.23 07:02 PM By Cal Webb III

I recently started re-reading Stephen R. Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."  I hadn't read the book in over 15 years and felt that it would be a good refresher at this point in my career.  Early in the book, Mr. Covey begins to dissect the "habits" paradigm moving from the ideas of dependence to independence and finally to interdependence.  Mr. Covey says this, "[I[nterdependence is a far more mature, more advanced concept.  If I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone" (51).

Reflecting on the concept of interdependence in business processes and internal controls, I wondered how often any of us consider our interdependent needs in the design and execution of key processes and internal controls.  Whether we are approving a purchase or reviewing financial data to make decisions, the process that got us to the decision point required many hands and brains to create.  Not many of us would argue that we aren't, at least, somewhat reliant on others in many aspects of our career; however, how many of us have designed organizational culture and processes with the concept as the central focus?

Off the top of my head, here are a few questions that came to mind in answering the question above:

* How does the process or internal control design communicate the value each person plays in its execution?

* Are we intentional about training and communicating the importance of individual involvement in a process?

* Are our job descriptions aligned with expectations and goals for the team or organization as a whole?

* Are we evaluating, training, and growing personnel in a timely and effective manner?

* Does our compensation model promote interdependence in our organization's culture?

* Do we have the tools and techniques for each person in a process or internal controls to add value at their fullest potential?

* Does leadership make intentional efforts to promote organizational "interdependence?"

1. Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Free Press. New York, NY, 2004.

Cal Webb III