Principles

I hope these principles will help you struggle well and get all the joy you can out of life. In order to have the best life possible, you have to:
  1. Know what the best decisions are and
  2. Have the courage to make them.
  For any group or organization to function well, its work principles must be aligned with its members’ life principles.
 

LIFE PRINCIPLES

Think for yourself to decide:
  1. What you want
  2. What is true
  3. What you should do to achieve #1 in light of #2, and do that with humility and open-mindedness so that you consider the best thinking available to you.
Look to the patterns of those things that affect you in order to understand the cause-effect relationships that drive them and to learn principles for dealing with them effectively.  
  1. EMBRACE REALITY AND DEAL WITH IT
    1. Be a hyperrealist
    2. Dreams + Reality + Determination = Successful Life.
    3. Truth - or, more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality is the essential foundation for any good outcome.
    4. Be radically open-minded and radically transparent.
    5. Look to nature to learn how reality works.
    6. Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and its greatest reward.
    7. Understand nature’s practical lessons.
    8. Pain + Reflection = Progress.
    9. Weigh second and third order consequences.
    10. Own your outcomes.
    11. Look at the machine from the higher level.
  2. USE THE 5-STEP PROCESS TO GET WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF LIFE
    1. Have clear goals
    2. Identify and don’t tolerate problems.
    3. Diagnose problems to get at their root causes.
    4. Design a plan.
    5. Push through to completion.
    6. Remember that weaknesses don’t matter if you find solutions.
  3. BE RADICALLY OPEN-MINDED
    1. Recognize your two barriers.
      1. Understand your ego barrier.
      2. Understand your blind spot barrier.
    2. Practice radical open-mindedness.
    3. Appreciate the art of thoughtful disagreement.
    4. Triangulate your view with believable people who are willing to disagree.
    5. Recognize the signs of closed-mindedness and open-mindedness that you should watch out for.
    6. Understand how you can become radically open-minded.
  4. UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE ARE WIRED VERY DIFFERENTLY
    1. Understand the power that comes from knowing how you and others are wired.
    2. Meaningful work and meaningful relationships aren’t just nice things we choose for ourselves - they are genetically programmed into us.
    3. Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want.
    4. Find out what you and others are like.
      1. Introversion vs. extroversion.
      2. Intuiting vs. feeling.
      3. Thinking vs. perceiving.
      4. Creators vs. refiners vs. advancers vs. executors vs. flexors.
      5. Focusing on tasks vs. focusing on goals.
      6. Workplace personality inventory.
      7. Shapers are people who can go from visualization to actualization.
    5. Getting the right people in the right roles in support of your goal is the key to succeeding at whatever you choose to accomplish.
  5. LEARN HOW TO MAKE DECISIONS EFFECTIVELY
    1. Recognize that
      1. The biggest threat to good decision making is harmful emotions, and
      2. Decision making is a two-step process (first learning then deciding).
    2. Synthesize the situation at hand.
    3. Synthesize the situation through time.
    4. Navigate levels effectively.
    5. Logic, reason, and common sense are your best tools for synthesizing reality and understanding what to do about it.
    6. Make your decisions as expected value calculations.
    7. Prioritize by weighing the value of additional information against the cost of not deciding.
    8. Simplify!
    9. Use principles.
    10. Believability weight your decision making.
    11. Convert your principles into algorithms and have the computer make decisions alongside you.
 

WORK PRINCIPLES

  • An organization is a machine consisting of two major parts: culture and people.
  • Tough love is effective for achieving both great work and great relationships.
  • A believability-weighted idea meritocracy is the best system for making effective decisions.
  • Make your passion and your work one and the same and do it with people you want to be with.
 

TO GET THE CULTURE RIGHT…

  1. TRUST IN RADICAL TRUTH AND RADICAL TRANSPARENCY
    1. Realize that you have nothing to fear from knowing the truth.
    2. Have integrity and demand it from others.
    3. Create an environment in which everyone has the right to understand what makes sense and no one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up.
    4. Be radically transparent.
    5. Meaningful relationships and meaningful work are mutually reinforcing, especially when supported by radical truth and radical transparency.
  2. CULTIVATE MEANINGFUL WORK AND MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS.
    1. Be loyal to the common mission and not to anyone who is not operating consistently with it.
    2. Be crystal clear on what the deal is.
    3. Recognize that the size of the organization can pose a threat to meaningful relationships.
    4. Remember that most people will pretend to operate in your interest while operating in their own.
    5. Treasure honorable people who are capable and will treat you well even when you’re not looking.
  3. CREATE A CULTURE IN WHICH IT IS OKAY TO MAKE MISTAKES AND UNACCEPTABLE NOT TO LEARN FROM THEM.
    1. Recognize that mistakes are a natural part of the evolutionary process.
    2. Don’t worry about looking good - worry about achieving your goals.
    3. Observe the patterns of mistakes to see if they are products of weaknesses.
    4. Remember to reflect when you experience pain.
    5. Know what types of mistakes are acceptable and what types are unacceptable, and don’t allow the people who work for you to make the unacceptable ones.
  4. GET AND STAY IN SYNC
    1. Recognize that conflicts are essential for great relationships because they are how people determine whether their principles are aligned and resolve their differences.
    2. Know how to get in sync and disagree well.
    3. Be open-minded and assertive at the same time.
    4. If it is your meeting to run, manage the conversation.
    5. Great collaboration feels like playing jazz.
    6. When you have alignment, cherish it.
    7. If you find you can’t reconcile major differences - especially in values - consider whether the relationship is worth preserving.
  5. BELIEVABILITY WEIGHT YOUR DECISION MAKING
    1. Recognize that having an effective idea meritocracy requires that you understand the merit of each person’s ideas.
    2. Find the most believable people possible who disagree with you and try to understand their reasoning.
    3. Think about whether you are playing the role of a teacher, a student, or a peer and whether you should be teaching, asking questions, or debating.
    4. Understand how people came by their opinions.
    5. Disagreeing must be done efficiently.
    6. Recognize that everyone has the right and responsibility to try to make sense of important things.
    7. Pay more attention to whether the decision-making system is fair than whether you get your way.
  6. RECOGNIZE HOW TO GET BEYOND DISAGREEMENTS.
    1. Remember: principles can’t be ignored by mutual agreement.
    2. Make sure people don’t confuse the right to complain, give advice, and openly debate with the right to make decisions.
    3. Don’t leave important conflicts unresolved.
    4. Once a decision is made, everyone should get behind it even though individuals may still disagree.
    5. Remember that if the idea meritocracy comes into conflict with the well-being of the organization, it will inevitably suffer.
    6. Recognize that if the people who have the power don’t want to operate by principles, the principled way of operating will fall.
 

TO GET THE PEOPLE RIGHT...

  1. REMEMBER THAT THE WHO IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WHAT
    1. Recognize that the most important decision for you to make is who you can choose as your RP.
    2. Know that the ultimate RP will be the person who bears the consequences of what is done.
  2. HIRE RIGHT. BECAUSE THE PENALTIES FOR HIRING WRONG ARE HUGE.
    1. Match the person to the design.
    2. Remember that people are built very differently and that different ways of seeing and thinking make people suitable for different jobs.
    3. Think of your teams the way that sports managers do: no one person possesses everything required to produce success, yet everyone must excel.
    4. Pay attention to people’s track records.
    5. Don’t hire people just to fit the first job they will do; hire people you want to share your life with.
    6. When considering compensation, provide both stability and opportunity.
    7. Remember that in great partnerships, consideration and generosity are more important than money.
    8. Great people are hard to find so make sure you think about how to keep them.
  3. CONSTANTLY TRAIN, TEST, EVALUATE, AND SORT PEOPLE.
    1. Understand that you and the people you manage will go through a process of personal evolution.
    2. Provide constant feedback.
    3. Evaluate accurately, not kindly.
    4. Recognize that tough love is the hardest and the most important type of love to give (because it is so rarely welcomed).
    5. Don’t hide your observations about people.
    6. Make the process of learning what someone is like open, evolutionary, and iterative.
    7. Knowing how people operate and being able to judge whether that way of operating will lead to good results is more important than knowing what they did.
    8. Recognize that when you are really in sync with someone about their weaknesses, the weaknesses are probably true.
    9. Train, guardrail, or remove people; don’t rehabilitate them.
    10. Remember that the goal of a transfer is the best, highest use of the person in a way that benefits the community as a whole.
    11. Don’t lower the bar.
  4. TO BUILD AND EVOLVE YOUR MACHINE…
    1. Manage as someone operating a machine to achieve a goal.
    2. Look down on your machine and yourself within it from the higher level.
    3. Remember that for every case you deal with, your approach should have two purposes: 1. To move you closer to your goal, and 2. To train and test your machine (people and design).
    4. Understand the difference between managing, micromanaging, and not managing.
    5. Know what your people are like and what makes them tick, because your people are your most important resource.
    6. Clearly assign responsibilities.
    7. Probe deep and hard to learn what you can expect from your machine.
    8. Think like an owner, and expect the people you work with to do the same.
    9. Recognize and deal with key-man risk.
    10. Don’t treat everyone the same - treat them appropriately.
    11. Know that great leadership is generally not what it’s made out to be.
    12. Hold yourself and your people accountable and appreciate them for holding you accountable.
    13. Communicate the plan clearly and have clear metrics conveying whether you are progressing according to it.
    14. Escalate when you can’t adequately handle your responsibilities and make sure that the people who work for you are proactive about doing the same.
  5. PERCEIVE AND DON’T TOLERATE PROBLEMS
    1. If you’re not worried, you need to worry - and if you’re worried, you don’t need to worry.
    2. Design and oversee a machine to perceive whether things are good enough or not good enough, or do it yourself.
    3. Be very specific about problems; don’t start with generalizations.
    4. Don’t be afraid to fix the difficult things.
  6. DIAGNOSE PROBLEMS TO GET AT THEIR ROOT CAUSES
    1. To diagnose well, ask the following questions: 1. Is the outcome good or bad? 2. Who is responsible for the outcome? 3. If the outcome is bad, is the RP incapable and/or is the design bad?
    2. Maintain an emerging synthesis by diagnosing continuously.
    3. Keep in mind that diagnoses should produce outcomes.
    4. Use the following “drill-down” technique to gain an 80/20 understanding of a department or sub-department that is having problems.
    5. Understand that diagnosis is foundational to both progress and quality relationships.
  7. DESIGN IMPROVEMENT TO YOUR MACHINE TO GET AROUND YOUR PROBLEMS.
    1. Build your machine.
    2. Systemize your principles and how they will be implemented.
    3. Remember that a good plan should resemble a movie script.
    4. Recognize that design is an iterative process. Between a bad “now” and a good “then” is a “working through it” period.
    5. Build the organization around goals rather than tasks.
    6. Create an organizational chart to look like a pyramid, with straight lines down that don’t cross.
    7. Create guardrails when needed - and remember it’s better not to guardrail at all.
    8. Keep your strategic vision the same while making appropriate tactical changes as circumstances dictate.
    9. Have good controls so that you are not exposed to the dishonesty of others.
    10. Have the clearest possible reporting guidelines and delineations of responsibilities.
    11. Remember that almost everything will take more time and cost more money than you expect.
  8. DO WHAT YOU SET OUT TO DO
    1. Work for goals that you and your organization are excited about and think about how your tasks connect to those goals.
    2. Recognize that everyone has too much to do.
    3. Use checklists.
    4. Allow time for rest and renovation.
  9. USE TOOLS AND PROTOCOLS TO SHAPE HOW WORK IS DONE.
    1. Having systematized principles embedded in tools is especially valuable for an idea meritocracy.
  10. AND FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, DON’T OVERLOOK GOVERNANCE!
    1. To be successful, all organizations must have checks and balances.
    2. Remember that in an idea meritocracy a single CEO is not as good as a great group of leaders.
    3. No governance system of principles, rules, and check and balances can substitute for a great partnership.