Work Principle 1: Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency

Get the Culture Right

“You have to work in a culture that suits you. That’s fundamental to your happiness and your effectiveness.” Page 319 That’s an idea worth remembering. I think about all the toxic environments I’ve allowed myself to be part of and all the toxicity I’ve added to environments over the years. I’m asking myself, “what culture suits me today?” A worthwhile question indeed.

Operate an Idea Meritocracy

Dalio often refers to Bridgewater’s culture as an idea meritocracy, which is supposed to be a place where ideas are evaluated on their merit, not on where they came from. The concept reminds me of W.E. Deming, who wrote about the importance of getting ideas from the workers about improving manufacturing effectiveness. The idea from both is attractive; ideas have authority, instead of people having authority. I guess this is the allure of a democracy, that the group would be free to move toward the best ideas instead of just listening to the person in authority. Unfortunately, just because most people argue for the idea doesn’t make it the best idea.

To establish an “idea meritocracy”

  1. “Put your honest thoughts on the table.
  2. Have thoughtful disagreement.
  3. Abide by agreed-upon ways of getting past disagreement.”

Trust in Radical Truth and Radical Transparency

Truth Improves Decision-Making

Page 323 “The more people can see what is happening the good, the bad, and the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things.” I’m thinking of my family in this instance. How many families spiral into dysfunction because someone decides to start hiding the bad and the ugly. This idea is very intriguing…but how easy is it? As I’m reading this section I’m wondering, “How would the average person evaluate whether radical truth and transparency are effective? What would the average reader be saying to themselves as they read this? How can I find out?” Honestly, I’m attracted to radical transparency because it’s the opposite of the way I observe organizations managing themselves. But that does not make it effective or even wise.

Page 325 “You have nothing to fear from knowing the truth.” I want to try and let this one sit for a moment. Jesus said, “then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus was referring to the truth about the sacrificial system, I think, but is there a limit to Dalio’s thinking here? Are there times when we should fear knowing the truth?

I started thinking about if I apply Dalio’s principles to my family then I need to be serious about the purpose of my being a parent. What is my role? what is the outcome of effective parenting? Among other things, I think our goal is to prepare children to be thoughtful, independent resourceful, and kind individuals. I wonder what other parents’ desired outcomes. Do parents define this for themselves as they bring their children into the world?

Always Radical Truth and Radical Transparency?

Page 331 I started thinking of Jim Carrey in “Yes man!” Many who read this book may jump into the idea of radical transparency and hurt many people or organizations in their zeal. Dalio plans to flesh out when and why they’ve found times to practice restraint.’

Page 332 “over the last several decades, we have not had a single material legal or regulatory judgment against us.” This seems important. I wonder how many other firms have had judgments against them.

Exceptions to Radical Transparency

  1. The information is private, personal, confidential and doesn’t impact the community at large
  2. Sharing puts the long term interests of the Bridgewater community at risk. 3. where the value of sharing is low and the distraction would be significant (ex: compensation). I’m not sure where I stand on this third one. I would like to see organizations try and be more open about compensation so we can see what work is valued at. I’m sure there are organizations who have pursued that approach.

Overall, this chapter was encouraging. I like the idea of managers being transparent with employees. I think it’s a better direction to go in than all the hush hush that goes on in organizations. I have no way to prove that the silence is harmful but I know it doesn’t feel good as an employee or as a member of the community.

Does it bring any thoughts to your mind about truth and transparency in organizations?

Thoughtfully,
Philip

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