Topic: Learning

Don't Be Nice, Be Honest: Reflecting on Learn or Die, Principles, and an Everyone Culture

Learn or Die, Principles and An Everyone Culture are all fantastic books, I recommend you buy them.

That said, I believe a lot of each of them comes down to something pretty simple. Transparency, feedback loops, and the relationship between the two. All I mean by this is that transparency tends to lead to tighter feedback loops, no one is trying to impress each other. They're just trying to get the job done and they'll tell you if it isn't up to scratch.

As Ray Dalio wrote in Principles:

“a. View painful problems as potential improvements that are screaming at you. Though it won’t feel that way at first, each and every problem you encounter is an opportunity; for that reason, it is essential that you bring them to the surface. Most people don’t like to do this, especially if it exposes their own weaknesses or the weaknesses of someone they care about, but successful people know they have to. b. Don’t avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at. Thinking about problems that are difficult to solve may make you anxious, but not thinking about them (and hence not dealing with them) should make you more anxious still. When a problem stems from your own lack of talent or skill, most people feel shame. Get over it. I cannot emphasize this enough: Acknowledging your weaknesses is not the same as surrendering to them. It’s the first step toward overcoming them. The pains you are feeling are “growing pains” that will test your character and reward you as you push through them.”

Or as Edward Hess said in Learn or Die:

“Learning is a process of modifying or completely changing our mental models based on new experiences or evidence.”

And as Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Matthew L Miller, Andy Fleming, and Deborah Helsing wrote in An Everyone Culture:

“The thing that we found . . . in our business, and I think for most businesses, you have to have better ideas than other people."

All it comes down to is finding ways to be engaged with the people around you, so your feedback loops become as small as possible. In today's world it isn't who has the most money or the most resources, it's about who can find the tightest feedback loops.

I believe tight feedback loops happen when we start being honest with each other. If you think something is bad, tell the person. If they think you're wrong, they should have to prove it.

As Ray Dalio said:

"Truth - more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality - is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes."

Don't be nice, be honest.