Inspected Trust

Will Larson has the idea of inspected trust: when someone brings a problem, you trust that it is a problem and then verify it independently through inspection. This directly applies to people management problems but can be generalized to any type of work1.

Will presents the example of a manager telling you that an employee is under performing. You trust that manager’s assessment is correct but verify it by inspecting yourself (talking to others or having a one-on-one with the direct.)

Types of Inspection

  • Forum Inspection: Operating reviews
  • Data: prepared data that may contain bias, this is second hand inspection
  • Learning Spike: drilling deeply into a problem by talking to as many people as possible about it. You must go to the source and not intermediaries such as middle managers
  • Fundamental intolerance for misalignment: when a leader drills into any confusion or misalignment in meetings or otherwise. Careful on use as it can be read as immaturity.


Larson, W. Inspection and the limits of trust. at (2021).

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