The Top 10 Bridgewater Tools: Tech for Success

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Principles: Life and Work" by Ray Dalio. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What are the Bridgewater tools that the company used? How did these Bridgewater tools help the company succeed?

Bridgewater tools are technological tools that the company uses to track success. The tools are meant to be employee friendly and encourage transparency.

Read more about Bridgewater tools and how they help the company.

Top Bridgewater Tools

We’ve covered a number of Bridgewater’s tools already. Here’s a recap of the main ones and introduction of a few new ones.

Principles and Coach

For years before publishing this book, Dalio had his Life and Work principles available throughout his company and publicly. 

Since there are hundreds of principles, he created Coach, a library of common situations and how to deal with them. People give feedback on the advice that Coach gives.

Dot Collector

Dot Collector is one of the Bridgewater tools used during meetings where people can award each other dots (positive or negative) on a few dozen attributes, such as expertise in the topic area, creativity, open-mindedness, and so on. All of the dots are shown publicly and in real-time, so people can see everyone else’s thoughts throughout the meeting. People often use this feedback to correct how they’re behaving in the same meeting.

The Dot Collector tool also empowers believability-weighted decision making by collecting votes from each person at the meeting. It then shows everyone’s votes, as well as the believability-weighted results. People who disagree with the outcome are alerted and shown steps to resolve the disagreement.

People who are rated as more believable in an attribute have more weight behind the dots they give for that attribute. Over many meetings and many ratings by other people, a person’s strengths and weaknesses become very visible through the Dot Collector.

Baseball Cards

Baseball Cards are one of the Bridgewater tools that are summaries of people’s strengths and weaknesses and the underlying evidence behind them. The data comes from the Dot Collector as well as performance reviews, personality assessments, and their track record.

Baseball Cards help people assess how believable others are. They also help people construct complementary teams of different abilities. 

Combinator

The Combinator takes data from Baseball Cards and compares people to each other. It’s used to find people for a particular job. For example, you can type in names of people who fit the role well, and the Combinator will find other similar people.

Issue Log

The Issue Log is one of the Bridgewater tools which is a place to record mistakes. Anything that goes wrong has to be added to the issue log, with the severity of the issue and who was responsible.

The Issue Log had a cultural effect of making mistakes OK to report.

Pain Button

The Pain Button is a tool to help people reflect on the pain they’re feeling. It asks people to record the emotions they’re feeling, then guides them through reflection questions. It prompts people to create plans for how to deal with the situation and prevent the pain in the future. The tool is meant to build a habit of triggering reflection after feeling pain.

The Pain Button also provides analytics, such as the frequency of pain and causes.

Dispute Resolver

The Dispute Resolver asks questions to help people resolve their disagreements. It encourages people to express their viewpoints and get in sync. It also presents believable people to escalate the disagreement to, if needed.

Daily Update Tool

Dalio has asked his reports to take 10-15 minutes each day to update on what they did, what issues they ran into, and reflections. Dalio uses this to identify problems, see how people are working together, and track morale.

The Daily Update Tool converts the updates into data, letting Dalio see metrics over time and stay in sync more easily.

(Shortform note: It’s unclear if everyone at Bridgewater, other than Dalio’s direct reports is required to use the daily update tool.)

Contract Tool

The Contract Tool is one of the Bridgewater tools that makes clear what commitments people have with one another. It prevents the problem of meetings ending with un clear assignment of duties, resulting in nothing happening.

Process Flow Diagram

The Process Flow Diagram helps people visualize the organization as a machine, showing an organizational chart with roles and responsibilities. It also connects to individual people’s detailed profiles (such as their Baseball Card).

The Top 10 Bridgewater Tools: Tech for Success

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Ray Dalio's "Principles: Life and Work" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Principles: Life and Work summary:

  • How Ray Dalio lost it all on bad bets, then rebounded to build the world's largest hedge fund
  • The 5-step process to getting anything you want out of life
  • Why getting the best results means being relentlessly honest with everyone you work with

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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