April 13, 2022

Understanding What Is True Is Essential For Success

Understanding what is true is essential for success, and being radically transparent about everything, including mistakes and weaknesses, helps create the understanding that leads to improvements.

That’s not just a theory; we have put this into practice at Bridgewater for over forty years, so we know how it works. But like most things in life, being radically truthful and transparent has cons as well as pros, which I will describe as accurately as possible.

Being radically truthful and transparent with your colleagues and expecting your colleagues to be the same with you ensures that important issues are apparent instead of hidden. It also enforces good behavior and good thinking, because when you have to explain yourself, everyone can openly assess the merits of your logic.

If you are handling things well, radical transparency will make that clear, and if you are handling things badly, radical transparency will make that clear as well, so it helps to maintain high standards.

Radical truth and radical transparency are fundamental to having a real idea meritocracy. 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.

This approach is also invaluable for training: Learning is compounded and accelerated when everyone has the opportunity to hear what everyone else is thinking.

As a leader, you will get the feedback essential for your learning and for the continual improvement of the organization’s decision-making rules. And seeing firsthand what’s happening and why builds trust and allows people to make the independent assessments of the evidence that a functioning idea meritocracy requires.