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Checks and Balances

There is a principle within government known as checks and balances, under which branches not allowing comparison are empowered to prevent actions by other departments and share power.

Checks and balances are applied primarily in constitutional-based governments.

Fundamentally they are of great import in governments, such as the United States, which separates powers amongst legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Sounds heavy, but John Adams famously said: “It is by balancing each of these powers against the other two that the efforts in human nature towards tyranny can alone be checked and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved within the constitution.”

Within business, checks and balances are various processes set in place to reduce mistakes, prevent improper behavior, and decrease the risk of centralization of power.

Checks and balances usually ensure that one person or department has absolute control over decisions.

It also helps clearly define the assigned duties and create cooperation in completing tasks.

These processes are essential in our businesses, where one individual can make decisions that affect operations.

By separating duties of employees into clearly defined roles, we are better able to ensure that individual employees cannot harm a business without the intervention of other employees.

Having these types of internal controls in a company can help improve operational efficiency.

In essence, the same principle as “Plan twice, execute once,” in project management, the reason being that by checking and double-checking, you are minimizing the possibility of anyone element being the cause of a failure of a project or business.

Take a look at your business as it stands today.

What are your potential points of failure?

What are your weaknesses, and do you have contingencies in place to mitigate them?

Within ourselves as well, I remember one of the favorite questions of interviewers back in the day, which used to be, “What is your greatest weakness?” I used to dislike that question because it always struck me as there is no good answer.

I always preferred to think of it in terms of “I don’t have a great weakness.

Instead, I have (these), and here are the plans in place for myself to mitigate the likelihood of that weakness occurring and how to handle the situation if it were to occur.

Maybe it’s the consultant in me, but I always thought it was not about having the correct answers, but knowing where to go to find the answers.

The same is true with checks and balances.

You appoint the work and responsibilities to the resource(s) best suited to make them for the best potential outcome for your business.

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