Black and white portrait of Ray Dalio: Narrator and Creator of Life Principles

Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.

Work Principle

Baseball Cards

In addition to collecting "dots" about people in meetings, we collect data on our people in numerous other ways (reviews, tests, the choices people make, etc.). All these dots are analyzed via computerized algorithms based on stress-tested logic in order to create pointillist pictures of what people are like. That logic is typically shared with and vetted by the people in the company to help its objectivity and believability. We then capture these pictures in Baseball Cards, which are a simple way of presenting a person's strengths and weaknesses and the evidence behind them (in much the same way as a baseball card does for a professional baseball player).

I found that we needed to have these and refer to them regularly because without them, people tended to interact with each other without any regard to who was good or bad at what. For example, Baseball Cards are useful in meetings, where they allow people to assess the qualities of whoever is expressing a point of view to determine the merit of that opinion. As a supplement to Baseball Cards, we developed another tool called the People Profile, which takes all the data from Baseball Cards (which have grown complex over time) to provide a simple, text-based summary of what each person is like. Over time, this is meant to provide employees with a systemized synthesis that captures Bridgewater's best thinking about what someone is like. We work with the people being assessed to compare these pictures with the assessed person's own perceptions. In this way of seeking alignment between the process and the person's self-perception, both the processes and the confidences in the perceptions are improved.

In order to match people to jobs, I developed the Combinator, which takes the data from the Baseball Cards and allows one to look at people based on their key attributes and compare them to one another. If you're looking for a certain type of person to fill a role, you can enter a few names of people who fit the image, and the Combinator will call up the precise data on what those people are like, synthesize the key qualities that make them that way, and then search the database to help you find other similar people. The Combinator can also be used to generate job specifications (based on the type of person you are looking for) that you can apply both inside and outside the company.

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