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The greatest truth is honesty, and the greatest falsehood is dishonesty- Abu Bakr

 In your own words, how do you describe the culture of Bridgewater?

Bridgewater has maintained a very interesting culture valued around Truth, honesty and
the courage of conviction into its core beliefs. As Ray Dalio believed that “our greatest
power is that we know that we don’t know and we are open to being wrong and
learning.” He inculcated a culture where the people seek the knowledge of what they
don’t know and help their customers. No wonder that Bridgewater performed so well that
according to case “the firm’s top fund, Pure Alpha, had an annualized return of 14.7% in
the 20 years since its inception”

Also Ego and superiority complex is something the firm wants to avoid because that
prevents seeking knowledge and becoming better, as Dalio said “our greatest challenge is
in having people get past their ego barriers to look at their weaknesses objectively” and
the culture with its transparency, recording meetings which is available to everyone,
giving review in baseball card format to everyone, which is again available to everyone
was some of the steps taken to make sure that there is no ego and concept of hierarchy
but only pursuit of truth.

If you look at the cultural components of the Bridgewater we can see following aspects

1)Observable Artifacts:

Stories: In the case interviews, we see, how every staff member from C suite executives
like Eileen Murray to Greg Jensen, everyone has narrated incidents when they received
very honest feedbacks and how they felt when they gave similar feedbacks. It shows hpw
strongly the culture is followed and how everyone is initiated into the frank and honest
feedback culture

Rituals and ceremonies: The fact that meetings were recorded and performance reviews
of everyone is available for everyone is something very unusual and that showed, how
the firm established itself through its operations and made the employee realize, how
important its founding principles are

2) Basic Underlying Assumption

As Dalio said in one of the videos, what they intend to do is 1) Meaningful work. 2)
Meaningful relationships 3) Making money and Being truthful is at the core of the three,
almost everything else stems from this core belief.
3) Espoused Value

In order to connect the basic underlying assumptions with the observable artifacts, Dalio
made a 123-page document which had 3 parts, the third part has principles with the way
Bridgewater was managed. With principles like “Truth —more precisely, an accurate
understanding of reality— is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”
Bridgewater provided a guide for everyone to connect with basic underlying assumptions
and hence understand what the culture of Bridgewater’s is and what it stands for, making
sure that people understood Bridgewater’s vision and sense of identity

 What are the trade-offs associated with Bridgewater’s culture and with the specific
practices used to develop and/or sustain their culture?

Life is all about trade-offs. One cannot be everything to everyone and Bridgewater is no
exception. As One former employee said “It’s either a cult with mind control or the
happiest place on earth, depending on whether you buy into it.” Which makes it clear
that not everyone was a major fan of it.

One trade-off was between, being a nice place to work and being a truthful place to work
where even a subordinate was empowered to point towards your mistakes. Many people
prefer hierarchy as the society in general is structured around it, some even thrive in it.
However, Bridgewater was not that kind of company.

Second trade-off was between keeping top management meetings confidential and
sharing literally every meeting. Bridgewater kept record of every meeting, even the one
between top executives and it shared it because the organization wanted to show how
“top management run the firm”, again this kind of approach devoid the company of many
opportunities where top-level secrecy is important.

The trade-offs were highly evident as the turnover at the firm was 25% for the first 18
months of employment which showed how they trade off played out but Bridgewater
firmly believed in the founding principles of its culture and as Ray Dalio said “ keeping a
person in a job they are not suited for is terrible both for the person (because it prevents
personal evolution) and our community (because we all bear the consequences and it
erodes meritocracy).
 Do you believe Bridgewater’s culture will remain strong after Dalio fully hands over the
leadership role? Why or why not?
I believe that Bridgewater’s culture will remain strong after Dalio fully handles the
leadership role because not only Dalio decided to remain as Mentor to guide the
transition but also as co-Chief Investment Officer who would be part of the company.
Second factor that would help Bridgewater’s culture was the 123-page document codified
by Ray. Part 3 of the document gave 210 management principles gave the foundation of
how Bridgewater was managed. This served as guiding vision of Ray and management
can refer to it as and when required
Third factor to help Bridgewater’s culture was that with turnover of 25% in first 18
months, people who remained in Bridgewater were the ones who realized how much they
are in congruence with the culture, hence they valued it
And last but not the least is Ray Dalio’s own vision and his ability to get right people. He
selected not one but three co-CEOs and Management Committee. He had filled these
people from those who came at Bridgewater and shined in the company culture and rose
in ranks and displayed the true essence of Bridgewater’s culture.
Hence with a visionary founder, strong cultural foundation. Firm process to separate
those who have dissonance with company’s culture and ability to attract people who
appreciate the culture of honesty, Bridgewater’s culture will remain strong even after
Dalio fully handover leadership role.