Back in 2012, Steven Covey said ‘Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success’. While Steven saw interdependence as evolution, and mostly we agree, there are times when independent working is valuable1
1. Pack wolf working in the Business World
There can be little doubt that greater interdependence has benefited the Safety industry. In 2009 DuPont carried out a study using the Bradly Curve and showed there to be a direct correlation between lower injury rates and a more interdependent culture.
2. What do we mean by Interdependent working?
Human beings have had to work together ever since they realised that they couldn’t tackle specific problems, such as hunting woolly mammoths, on their own. However, it wasn’t until the 1900s that social interdependence as a concept was first articulated. Now we can think of interdependence as ‘when the accomplishment of each individual’s goals are affected by the actions of others’2. Independent working therefore is where individual’s outcomes are unaffected by each other’s actions.
Over the last decade, at CGA Management, we have observed three groups of people experiencing some of the most significant shifts in new ways of working interdependently with others. They include technical experts, sales consultants and leaders/managers.
3. Do We Always Want Pack Wolves?
There is an old African Proverb that says ‘If you want to go fast, go alone and if you want to go far, go together’. Often tasks that required interdependent working can take more time but yield an improvement in the output quality. However, this isn’t always true or clear cut.
We can see this with Agile working. Today Agile thinking has reached far and wide in response to providing organisations with an approach to developing products and solutions more quickly and flexibly. At the very heart of Agile is the emphasis on business people and developers working together daily; however, there is also a focus on building projects around motivated individuals. These individuals might work at times independently, but at other times in dyads, in small teams, large teams, in groups, and in fact, all kinds of combinations. This makes sense as sometimes, as an expert it’s essential that you can work alone and able to hold your ground when you need to, but it also makes sense that it’s now crucial that you can work with others, as in today’s 2020 business no person is an island.
Thoughts for the week:
Take a look at your task list. Which of your tasks would benefit from you working alone? Which ones would benefit from the input of others?
Next week we will look at What factors determine the extent we work interdependently.