Today we start a four-part series that delves a bit deeper into our values here at Outspoke. The goal is to give you some insight into what we believe and how we operate. When we talk about culture, a company’s values have a considerable influence on what shape that culture takes.
Radical Transparency, however simple it may seem, is certainly not the easiest strategy to implement. The concept was popularized by Ray Dalio. In his TED Talk, he talks about how Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, put this into practice. Along with algorithmic decision-making, Dalio dubs the strategy “a believability-weighted idea meritocracy”. Idea meritocracy is all about implementing a culture that encourages and enables the best ideas to “win”, resulting in the best decisions being made.
Aside from his success, we resonate Ray’s underlying goal: to have meaningful work and meaningful relationships with the people you work with. What does it look like here at Outspoke?
Honesty vs. Transparency
Although the two words are similar, they have entirely different meanings. In this context especially, transparency is true to its nature. It provides clarity in communication and has a specific goal in mind. It is essential if you want to allow employees at a company to speak freely and form at least some semblance of an “idea meritocracy”. Being transparent requires honesty but is not the same thing.
Pure honesty has no goal apart from the absence of lying. It can be brutal and emotionless. Transparency requires it, while also providing some nuance and context. In addition, there are other elements of this value that are equally important. Those include humility, courage, and perspective.
Creating an environment where the best ideas win out requires quite a bit of work but can be well worth it. As Ray Dalio puts it, “(it’s) not an autocracy in which I lead and others follow and (it’s) not a democracy in which everybody’s points of view (are) equally valued.” A meritocracy values talent, effort, and achievement. Ideas that perform the best are those that survive and thrive in this type of environment.
Communicating in an honest way and being able to say what you really believe helps you to give insight into your perspectives. As others do the same thing, you are able to understand their point of view. This also allows leaders to receive honest feedback on their performance. Employees are free to criticize their superiors in order to help them improve going forward.
We share our values with our clients upfront and have found that since we started doing so, clients trust us and understand our process better. When partnering with one another, our relationships are more mutually beneficial this way. Honesty is critical for negotiating and problem-solving in any relationship. From the first client conversation, we try to be as honest and transparent as possible. We explain exactly how we price our time, who will be working on which projects, how we determine project timelines, and much more.
One of the most valuable aspects of radical transparency is the ability to speak up. We want our clients to speak up when they have an idea or critique. In the same way, we want to be able to be honest with clients and tell them when we think they are somewhat off-base or need a new direction. According to our Inbound Marketing Manager, Xavier Davis, “The bottom line is this: most client relation problems that our company faced in the past have been eliminated through the implementation of radical transparency. When both sides have all the information and the confidence to speak up, it’s truly a win-win.”
Collective Decision Making
When done the right way, collective decision making can improve your choices dramatically. In order to do it correctly, a few different things should be taken into consideration. Each individual’s experience and expertise should be the first aspect. This will give each individual a different amount of influence in each decision. Those who are experts or have a lot of experience with a particular topic will have more weight behind their input.
Multiple different perspectives are an asset when it comes to decision making. It often helps to see problems from a different angle. This diversification helps groups to think outside the box with their problem solving. Collective decision making can also help with forming teams. For example, pairing a creative person who has poor time management with an orderly and less creative partner can be beneficial to both. Radical transparency can truly help your company’s communication improve, but keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight. According to Ray Dalio, it will take a few months for your team to fully adjust to radical transparency. Keep at it and you might find that your relationship with your team has improved greatly! Teamwork makes the dream work, after all.
Our values are central to everything we do here at Outspoke. We want to encourage the freedom of speaking freely and create a space where ideas are thoughtfully exchanged, challenged, and improved. Taking emotion and bias out of decision making will only improve it. Keep in mind, this strategy may not work for everyone and we encourage testing it out before committing.
Let us know what you think in the comments or if you’ve had experience with Radical Transparency. Stay tuned for our next Values blog.