Principles: Life and Work, Ray Dalio

I mentioned this book in conversation with @boris and he said I should post it here.

Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates and is known in particular for his company’s approach to “idea meritocracy” and “radical transparency.” All of the meetings in the company are recorded and the recordings are available to anyone else in the company. During meetings people can rate each other using their Dot Collector app (dot as in “connect the dots”) and they develop scores on their believability, which are supposed to help the company as a whole navigate in a way that tied more closely to reality than to the rank of the decision maker. Some of the ideas sound kind of intense, but I can imagine them being applied well. Much of it reminds me of how Fission operates from what I’ve seen from my first week here (minus the intenseness).

What I like in particular about “Principles: Life and Work” is Dalio’s approach to systematizing decision making, stepping above the details of specific situations to analyze the machine and see how it works. If your goal in life is to “Embrace reality and deal well with it” (one of his principles), you need to see the world more clearly. You will need help along the way. You want to surround yourself with believable people who will talk straight with you. Various heuristics can be used to determine who is believable (people who have repeated success in an area combined with good explanations for that success). As you encounter situations in life you want to recognize the types of repeat situations you encounter and continually refine a set of principles for how best to deal with them instead of continually being blindsided by something new that really isn’t entirely new.

Reading this book felt like an honest and humble attempt at applying reflection and scientific thinking (good explanations plus falsification ala Karl Popper) to life as a whole and reminded me of my feeble attempts at gathering a collection of principles and processes to help prevent my brain from failing badly while programming or in life in general.

Here’s an intro video that describes this better.

You can learn more about his growing collection of principle related books and software at https://principles.com.