Principles: Table of Work Principles 1 – 4 (part 10 of 14)

Summary and Table of Work Principles

  • An organization is a machine consisting of two major parts: culture and people
    • A great organization has both great people and a great culture.
    • Great people have both great character and great capabilities.
    • Great cultures bring problems and disagreements to the surface and solve them well, and they love imagining and building great things that haven’t been built before.
  • Tough love is effective for achieving both great work and great relationships
    • In order to be great, one can’t compromise the uncompromisable.
  • A believably-weighted idea meritocracy is the best system for making effective decisions.
  • Make your passion and your work one and the same and o it with people you want to be with. 


  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
      • Never say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to them directly and don’t try people without accusing them to their faces.
      • Don’t let loyalty to people stand in the way of truth and the well-being of the organization.
    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.
      • Speak up, own it, or get out.
      • Be extremely open.
      • Don’t be naive about dishonesty.
    4. Be radically transparent
      • Use transparency to help enforce justice.
      • Share the things that are hardest to share.
      • Keep exceptions to radical transparency very rare.
      • Make sure those who are given radical transparency recognize their responsibilities to handle it well and to weigh all things intelligently.
      • Provide transparency to people who handle it well and either deny it to people who don’t handle it well or remove those people from the organization.
      • Don’t share sensitive information with the organization’s enemies.
    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.
      • Make sure people give more consideration to others than they demand for themselves.
      • Make sure that people understand the difference between fairness and generosity.
      • Know where the line is and be on the far side of fair.
      • Pay for work.
    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 wen 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.
      • Fail well.
      • Don’t feel bad about your mistakes or those of others. Love them!
    2. Don’t worry about looking good – worry about achieving your goals.
      • Get over “blame” and “credit” and get on with “accurate” and “inaccurate”.
    3. Observe the patters of mistakes to see if they are products of weaknesses.
    4. Remember to reflect when you experience pain.
      • Be self-reflective and make sure your people are self-reflective.
      • Know that nobody can see themselves objectively.
      • Teach and reinforce the merits of mistake-based learning.
    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.
      • Spend lavishly on the time and energy you devote to getting in sync, because it’s the best investment you can make.
    2. Know how to get in sync and disagree well.
      • Surface areas of possible out-of-syncness.
      • Distinguish between idle complaints and complaints mean too lead to improvement.
      • Remember that every story has another side.
    3. Be open-minded and assertive at the same time.
      • Distinguish open-minded people from close-minded people.
      • Don’t have anything to do with close-minded people.
      • Watch out for people who think it’s embarrassing not to know.
      • Make sure that those in charge are open-minded about the questions and comments of others.
      • Recognize that getting in sync is a two-way responsibility.
      • Worry more about substance than style.
      • Be reasonable and expect others to be reasonable.
      • Making suggestions and questioning are not the same as criticizing, so don’t treat them as if they are.
    4. If it is your meeting to run, manage the conversation.
      • Make it clear who is directing the meeting and whom it is meant to serve.
      • Be precise in what you’re talking about to avoid confusion.
      • Make clear what type of communication you are going to have in light of the objectives and priorities.
      • Lead the discussion by being assertive and open-minded.
      • Navigate between the different levels of the conversation.
      • Watch out for “topic slip.”
      • Enforce the logic of conversations.
      • Be careful not to lose personal responsibility via group decision making.
      • Utilize the “two-minute rule” to avoid persistent interruptions.
      • Watch out for assertive “fast talkers.”
      • Achieve completion in conversations.
      • Leverage your communication.
    5. Great collaboration feels like playing jazz.
      • 1+1=3.
      • 3 to 5 is more than 20.
    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.