Building A Company Where The Best Ideas Win

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Last week I watched an interview with Ray Dalio; he is the founder of a local hedge fund (Bridgewater Associates) and the wealthiest guy in my state, with a net worth of 17+ Billion. He recently wrote a book called Principles.

At an early point in his career he made a wrong bet, and due to his arrogance he lost his clients money. He had to borrow $4,000 from his dad to start over.

He vowed never to make that blunder again, and changed his attitude about decision making. Instead of thinking “I am right,” he asked himself “why am I right?”

He implemented a process called Radical Transparency.

Every employee in his firm is allowed to challenge his (or anyone’s) ideas, and share their own ideas. He wants the best ideas to win, regardless of where they come from. He calls it a Meritocracy of ideas.

In his company meetings, every participant grades the people speaking. The scores are shared publicly, so that everyone can learn and improves. In fact, most of his company meetings are recorded so that anyone can watch them later.

His motto is “building a company where the best ideas win,” and it made his clients a lot of money.

How does this apply to you? The ability for your people to thoughtfully disagree, share mistakes openly, and discuss new ideas is critical for faster learning and better decision making.

Examples from two landscape leaders: The best landscape firms use a similar (albeit less radical) approach.

E.g. Land Care, run by Mike Bogan, and A+ Lawn and Landscape, run by Shawn Edwards. They have Learning Cultures, where it is ok to admit mistakes, and best practices are openly discussed and shared. I have worked with A+ for years, and the managing partner, Shawn Edwards, has no ego when it comes to learning. He will talk to any company of any size and try to take away a good idea. It shows in his numbers.

Your learning opportunity. Reflect on what you can do as a leader to increase the sharing of ideas and learning between the leaders in your firm.

Share this email with your leadership team and ask them how you all can operate with more openness, honesty and sharing?

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