When we talk of mutual relationships at work we talk not only of these conventional interactions, but how these interactions occur.
Mutual relationships require an exchange of some kind, where one party—whom we can call the “customer”—requires something from another party—whom we can call the “supplier”—in order to see benefit. Put another way, in any mutual relationship, each party serves in both roles: as “supplier to” and as “customer of” the other party.
In addition, each of the actors in a mutual relationship has both rights and responsibilities. As a “customer of,” I should have the right to define what my needs are, and would expect that—to the degree possible—the others will honor those requirements. And, as a “supplier to,” I should have the right to get clear definitions of any needs I am fulfilling, and should also have the right to engage in conversation if I feel that the time, cost, scope or effort needed to fulfill those requirements will put an undue burden on anyone.
As you expand the idea to teams with mutual, complex interdependencies, it becomes easy to imagine why defining and ensuring mutual relationships is truly critical to team and organizational success.