This came for investing legend Ray Dalio, in his book Principles. Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, and Wall Street legend for his consistency. With a net worth over $18 billion, he is an uncommonly successful man even within the realm of uncommonly successful men.
Word has it that, if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water – it will freak out and jump out.
Makes sense so far, right?
However, if you put a frog into a pot of lukewarm water he will love it.
Then if you were to very gradually increase the temperature of the pot – slowly over time – the frog will stay and be boiled alive.
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Dalio used the Frog in Boiling Water Syndrome as an analogy for one of his rules in running his business: Handle all Problems Immediately.
To save you some reading, a good measure of the success at Bridgewater has come from the great lengths he has taken to build a real meritocracy. Like many great companies, their principle is (1) you don’t get a chair here unless we think will bring value, (2) if you get a chair you must contribute all of the time, (3) Reward their contribution.
It’s more than a “culture”. It’s a mindset. It’s a shared mental model. So if you want a staff of high people who are performing at a high level you have to have people who are all “rowing in the same direction.” All people.
The Frog story is a reminder that if you let problems sit and simmer, it will kill you. Is your top salesman an asshole and alienating the rest of the staff – fix it the very first time. Address it. Say it’s not acceptable. If they can’t handle it, move on. Remember, those people that he is alienating are top performers at their craft, right? RIGHT?
If that’s not the case, then it might be time to consider how you hire. Yes, I know money doesn’t grow on trees and The Best want to be paid. The Best is always the best you can afford. That still applies. If Top Dog is pissing off the best support person you can afford, you are eventually going to have to replace that support person with a better person. Who makes more. Take that out of Top Dog’s numbers – are they still top dog?
Ray Dalio has built one of the most successful investment companies for 2 decades on Wall Street. He has $18 billion, and he can’t afford to let problem simmer. Can you??