Treating Insiders Like Outsiders

November 21, 2023

I distinguish between decision taking and decision making.

Decision making involves the accumulation of information, deliberate consideration, the illumination of ideas generated from this deliberation, and a subsequent assessment of whether we are comfortable with the insights gained. Eventually, we transition to decision taking, the finalization of the decision.

For a decision to be effective, it is imperative that it encompasses all the necessary elements; otherwise, it becomes akin to a three-legged horse – incapable of delivering its intended outcome. The four imperatives include what needs to be done, how it should be done, by when, and who is responsible for its execution.

Failure to define and communicate any of these imperatives leaves a void that people often fill with their own expectations. This gap becomes a breeding ground for miscommunication, leading to hard feelings, loss of energy, and trust.

The person delegated to should be responsible that all four imperatives are agreed upon and clear so they know what is expected of them. If an imperative is missing  they must seek clarification by asking questions such as, "By when do you want it?" or "How do you want it delivered?" Accepting a task without all imperatives specified leads to assumptions, fostering disparate expectations between the delegator and the delegatee.

Consider a scenario where a task's deadline arrives, and the delegated individual fails to meet the agreed-upon time frame. Typically, excuses and explanations follow. However, excuses should not be tolerated.

An analogy can be drawn from a consumer experience: imagine expecting a product by a specified date, only to find it unavailable with the salesman providing post hoc explanations. This disappointment is a recipe for customer loss, a situation mirrored in professional contexts.

When the delegate realizes a deadline cannot be met, timely communication with the delegator is crucial. Just as we inform external clients about delays, the same courtesy should extend to internal clients.

It appears that we often treat external parties better than our internal counterparts, assuming greater accommodation and forgiveness from the latter. For a well-functioning company, effective teamwork, and the establishment of a climate of mutual trust and respect, treating internal clients at least as well, if not better, than external clients is imperative. This principle extends to marriage and family life as well.


1. In Spanish and French, it is referred to as decision-making, while in English, it is decision making.

2. In the German language, "hitting a decision" signifies finalization.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes