Ray Dalio: Open-Mindedness And The Power Of Not Knowing via Shane Parrish, Farnam Street

Ray Dalio, founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, offers a prime example of what a learning organization looks like in the best book I’ve ever read on learning, Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization. He comes to us again with this bit of unconventional wisdom.

First, the context …

To make money in the markets, you have to think independently and be humble. You have to be an independent thinker because you can’t make money agreeing with the consensus view, which is already embedded in the price. Yet whenever you’re betting against the consensus there’s a significant probability you’re going to be wrong, so you have to be humble.

Early in my career I learned this lesson the hard way — through some very painful bad bets. The biggest of these mistakes occurred in 1981–’82, when I became convinced that the U.S. economy was about to fall into a depression. My research had led me to believe that, with the Federal Reserve’s tight money policy and lots of debt outstanding, there would be a global wave of debt defaults, and if the Fed tried to handle it by printing money, inflation would accelerate. I was so certain that a depression was coming that I proclaimed it in newspaper columns, on TV, even in testimony to Congress. When Mexico defaulted on its debt in August 1982, I was sure I was right. Boy, was I wrong. What I’d considered improbable was exactly what happened: Fed chairman Paul Volcker’s move to lower interest rates and make money and credit available helped jump-start a bull market in stocks and the U.S. economy’s greatest ever noninflationary growth period

What’s important isn’t that he was wrong, it’s what the experience taught him and how he implemented those lessons at Bridgewater.

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Ray Dalio’s book recommendation: Learn or Die – Description

To compete with today’s increasing globalization and rapidly evolving technologies, individuals and organizations must take their ability to learn–the foundation for continuous improvement, operational excellence, and innovation–to a much higher level. In Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization, Edward D. Hess combines recent advances in neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics, and education with key research on high-performance businesses to create an actionable blueprint for becoming a leading-edge learning organization.

Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization examines the process of learning from an individual and an organizational standpoint. From an individual perspective, the book discusses the cognitive, emotional, motivational, attitudinal, and behavioral factors that promote better learning. Organizationally, Learn or Die focuses on the kinds of structures, culture, leadership, employee learning behaviors, and human resource policies that are necessary to create an environment that enables critical and innovative thinking, learning conversations, and collaboration. The volume also provides strategies to mitigate the reality that humans can be reflexive, lazy thinkers who seek confirmation of what they believe to be true and affirmation of their self-image. Exemplar learning organizations discussed include the secretive Bridgewater Associates, LP; Intuit, Inc.; United Parcel Service (UPS); W. L. Gore & Associates; and IDEO.

Ray Dalio’s book recommendation: Learn or Die – Review

As digital technologies race ahead there is a growing need for creativity and innovation. But how can we build organizations that foster the highest levels of creativity and innovation? Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization is a blueprint for creating such organizations. (Erik Brynjolffson, Co-author, The Second Machine Age)

In Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization Ed Hess knits an impressive fabric of insights from widely disparate strands of thought, experience, research, and real cases. Hess harnesses new evidence to challenge old nostrums. Practical and provocative, this book ranges across vital issues such as learning, innovation, team-building, and leadership. Read this book and prosper; read it before your competitor gets to it. (Robert Bruner, Dean, Darden School of Business)

This book does a beautiful job bringing together the most important ideas in organizational learning, established by academics and practitioners over the past thirty years or more, into one place. (Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School)

An excellent book. In Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization, Edward D. Hess captures a central element to enhancing and sustaining success as a business organization or as one of its leaders–being a high-performance learning organization. This book is a thought-provoking study of the technological advances making this need ever more relevant and provides a comprehensive roadmap of the culture, leadership, employee learning behaviors, HR policies and other organizational processes necessary to build and lead such an organization. (Roger Carlile, Executive Vice President and CFO, FTI Consulting)

Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization is a thoughtful and easy-to-read synthesis of the leading thinking on organizational and individual learning. Not only does Hess neatly summarizes what a savvy business person needs to know, but he also provides practical suggestions that will allow the reader to take action. This book contains essential lessons on an important topic–I highly recommend it. (Joe Timko, chief strategy officer, ADP)

Learn Or Die Ray Dalio

Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization (Columbia Business School Publishing) by Edward D. Hess