Ray Dalio, Dot Connector and Bridgewater apps

meritocracy
new-tools
experiment
worth-doing
people-ops

#1

In a recent thread, @oskarth shared the Ted Talk where Ray Dalio from Bridgewater explains the system he used to build an organization where “the best ideas win”

The talk shows the Dot Collector - an app where at meetings (full article)

Participants continuously record assessments of each other by giving them “dots,” positive or negative, on a number of attributes. These dots are laid out in a grid that updates dynamically, so that everyone in the conversation can see one another’s thinking as the meeting progresses. Seeing things through everyone’s eyes naturally causes most people to adopt a higher-level view, with which they recognize that their own perspective is just one of many—so they ask themselves which criteria are best for deciding how to resolve the issue at hand.
By taking data on what everyone in the room is like, the app is able to give people individualized coaching, which is especially important when their own opinions are unlikely to be right. The Dot Collector system notifies people automatically if they disagree with the believability-weighted majority on a given issue, and then gives them guidance on the appropriate steps to take to resolve that disagreement in an evidence-based way; it enables, in effect, believability-weighted voting.
The votes are on both equal-weighted and believability-weighted bases, not just simple majorities.

A simple Slack hack to the same effect already exists and I was wondering if & when could we have such a thing testable into Status?

The Dot Collector is being used in combination with other tools:

Baseball Cards

list up reviews, tests, choices made, etc., for everyone in the organization. All this information is analyzed algorithmically (based on stress-tested logic) in order to create a picture of what certain people are like. They help develop objectively a person’s authority on a given subject. At Bridgewater, people can challenge the ratings on their cards and present evidence-based arguments for changes.

Issue Log (= our Wall of Shame?)

a place to log problems the organization needs to solve (not to be cruel and hurtful to people when they make mistakes). The faster the issue becomes transparent, the quicker it will be solved. Here again, an environment that encourages exposing mistakes is important.

Pain Button

to let people record the emotions (anger, disappointment, frustration, worry, rejection, etc.) as they feel them, then come back at a later time to reflect on that pain using guided reflection questions. The app displays the frequency, the causes , and whether the actions an employee took afterward were productive. The tool creates a template for looping toward improvement - Pain + Reflection = Progress

Dispute Resolver

map to resolving disagreements in an idea-meritocratic way. It asks a series of questions to make sure all important information necessary for making the decision has been presented. It locates all the believable people in the decision-making group. It determines if the issue must be taken to a higher management level. It makes sure everyone knows the other members’ different points of view.

Would developing our own Status versions of these approaches help us towards creating a real meritocracy?

How would this look like at Status?


#2

Woo @Stef, great thread to start the day!

I was planning to read Principles first, then commenting as I go through the books. Any idea that moves us closer to a Idea Meritocracy seems like it’s worth pursuing!

Some early thoughts before reading:

  • The dot collector + baseball card concept would work well in a DAO model, where we haven’t quite solved peer based reputation. You can imagine people signing up to tasks having scored based on a variety of metrics. “Believability” can be the high level metric that people look to when assessing whether or not an user will be fit for a given role.
  • Dispute Resolver is one thing we haven’t had much of an issue with thanks to our awesome People Ops team, but isn’t decentralized and doesn’t scale well. Asking a series of questions to pull out the necessary information seems like a very objective way to resolve problems like this, which then allows peers to help resolve

#3

I worked at Bridgewater as they were my client at BCG for over a year and was ingrained in the system during that time, based here in Westport CT with them, and very much lived by the Principles which are an engaging read. One of our projects was to critically assess the Principles and we worked with Ray on that. I would, however, not advocate for the Bridgewater model for us as it works very well in front office settings but not so well for other parts of an organization. As with everything, it is also not just a question of the Principles in theory but how they are implemented / adapted / interpreted - and that’s where a lot of basic human nature comes in leading to unintended and negative outcomes. The Principles are also quite contradictory within themselves. In short, great read and the Bridgewater model has been a fascinating study in anthropology for a while now - but I would strongly advocate against it as one we adopt for ourselves.

If we are talking about adopting one-off features of the model, like the issue log but without (as noted above in the thread), making throwing peers and colleagues under the bus the primary / practical outcome, then I can see value in some of the features used there being applicable to us.

The topic of whether to adopt Bridgewater-like philosophies or not was debated at ConsenSys as well of course.


#4

Thank you for the insight, @akshifederici :heart: ! I really love having the point of view of someone who had direct experience.

Yes, that’s the idea and intention, and if by any chance we make mistakes along the way - as people do when trying to build new things- I’d hope you or anyone else who feels we’re going that way would flag it immediately. I read about people at Bridgewater being terrified, throwing up before meetings, crying in bathrooms and so on - hell not what we’re looking to create.

(if you can share) how did the part about learning/onboarding/making everyone live and breath by the principles go, and how do you think we could do more of that at Status?


#5

Happy to and yes we can adopt elements of it especially in terms of making sure every new member is exposed to common principles early on but also ingrain it in our BAU almost as a reflex. (and especially the tactical aspects of it). E.g. everyone had BW ipads with the principles on them as PDFs (of course everything else was blocked off these iPads in terms of access to most online sites due to security reasons :slight_smile: - I think now there is an app for the principles as my experiences were from 2012-2013 so a while ago. Most meetings were run in a way where anyone at the meeting could pause the meeting if a principle wasn’t being followed and point it out etc. Hiring / interviewing tested candidates based on the principles of course. I’m more familiar with the ongoing principles learning vs. onboarding up-front as I wasn’t part of the regular onboarding for hires from campuses.