Introduction to Ray Dalio's Meeting Process:

Ray Dalio's Meeting Process

This Ray Dalio's Meeting Process template from Process Street is engineered to provide an actionable use case based upon Ray Dalio's book Principles

Ray Dalio is the founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates

Over 40 years, Bridgewater has grown from one man in a home office to servicing over $160 billion in assets for 350 of the world's largest organizations, from McDonald's to central banks. 

The way this empire was built up was through an unorthodox cultivation of company culture. In our post which asks the question "How does a hedge fund work?" we explore the relationship between processes and principles as outlined by Ray Dalio himself.

The three templates we've constructed to give actionable examples of the content of Dalio's book are:

Throughout this process, you will find each task - where relevant - is accompanied by a direct quote from the relevant section of the text. 

You can use the form fields throughout to record information which will be stored upon each run of the checklist in the template overview tab.

Record checklist details

Use the form fields below to record the details of the meeting for your records.

Define who is running the meeting

For Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates, each meeting has a responsible person. 

This responsible person will chair the meeting, help structure the conversation, and intervene when the meeting goes outside of its aims. 

Enter the responsible person in the form field below.

"Every meeting is for the purpose of meeting someone’s goals; that person is the responsible party for the meeting and decides what s/he wants to get out of it and how s/he will do so. Meetings without a clear responsible party run a high risk of being directionless and unproductive."

Define the purpose of the meeting

In order to run the meeting successfully, the purpose must be clear. 

This prevents wasted time and helps everyone focus on the matter at hand in order that they may be able to contribute the maximum they are able to. 

Use the form field below to record the purpose of the meeting.

"There are many reasons why meetings go poorly, but frequently it is because of a lack of clarity about the topic or the level at which things are being discussed"

Clarify the purpose to the team and set clear objectives

Within Ray Dalio's concepts of Radical Truth, Radical Transparency, and Getting in Synch, it is vital for everyone to be aware of all aspects of operations at all times. 

Explain the purpose of the meeting to everyone in attendance and set your objectives for the meeting. These objectives will clarify direction, plus make it clear to everyone why some people are providing more input than others - their work or expertise lines up closer to the objectives. 

This helps manage expectations while also providing higher quality results. 

You can record these objectives in the form fields below.

"In any discussion try to limit the participation to those whom you value most in light of your objectives."

Explain what type of communication the meeting will use

Dalio splits communication into different forms or sections. These different forms of communication have different purposes and will be chosen on the basis of the purpose of the meeting and its objectives. 

Explaining a product update to a team is different from a HR investigation meeting and both are different to a strategic discussion meeting. Different forms of communication will be used in each and Dalio sees it as vital to Get in Synch with each other on this matter before the meeting begins. 

Use the form field below to record the type of communication.

"For example, if the goal of the meeting is to have people with different opinions work through their differences to try to get closer to what is true and what to do about it (i.e., open-minded debate), you will run it differently than if the meeting is meant to educate."

Manage the conversation as it occurs

Dalio has a series of tips for managing meetings and we'll cover three below. 

Enforce the logic of the communication type

Keep communication as close to the ideal for the communication type as possible. Do not let debates or discussions become one-sided education conversations. Encourage interaction and challenges. 

"There is a tendency for people’s emotions to heat up when there is a disagreement, so focusing on the logic of your exchange will facilitate communication."

Don't tolerate Topic Slip

If people are getting distracted from the purposes and objectives of the meeting then it is your job as the responsible person to be assertive and intervene. You need to be open minded and consider whether this topic slip has relevancy, but if it does not then you should shut it down. There is a finite amount of time - it is not wise to waste it.

"Topic slip is the random and inconclusive drifting from topic to topic without achieving completion. Tip: Avoid topic slip by tracking the conversation on a whiteboard so everyone can see where you are"

Focus on substance not style

Dalio picks up on a number of tendencies we have to evaluate things poorly. Sometimes this is because we hold people similar to us higher than those who are less like us. Sometimes we value the contributions of people who put their points across confidently or well worded over those who have less charisma. Equally, someone's point is not wrong simply because they made it in an aggressive or offensive way - though that might be another issue to deal with. Your job as the responsible person is to see past that and identify substance not style.

"This is not to say that some styles aren’t more effective than others with different people and in different circumstances, but don’t let style or tone prevent you from getting in synch."

Make sure the conversation achieves completion

The point of the meeting was defined by its purpose and objectives. If these haven't been met then the meeting has not served its purpose. 

If you have a finite amount of time for the meeting then you have to factor that in and make sure that the meeting achieves completion within that timeframe. 

Dalio believes that the ideal decision-making structure is to have 3-5 smart people Get in Synch over an issue and debate out a conclusion. 

He recognizes too that this isn't always possible. In which case, a single decision maker - normally the responsible person or a higher up - should make the decision. 

Record the meeting conclusion below.

"The worst way to make decisions is via large groups without a smart, conceptual leader. Almost everyone thinks they’re smart and conceptual, but only a small percentage of any group really is. Even when there is a large number of smart, conceptual leaders, more than five trying to make a decision is very inefficient and difficult."

Upload the detailed meeting notes

Use the form field below to upload the detailed meeting notes for reference.

"Where further action has been decided, get those tasks on a to-do list, assign people to do them, and specify due dates. Write down your conclusions, working theories, and to-do’s in places that will lead to their being used as foundations for continued progress"

Assign one individual to follow up on action points

Assign a person to follow up on the action points of the meeting.

This person will then make contact with the necessary responsible people for each of these items and make sure that the conclusions of the meeting will be carried out. 

List your action points below.

"Generally speaking, to avoid distraction during the discussion itself, prioritizing follow-ups and assignments should be done afterwards"

Email a summary of notes and actions to relevant people

Use the email widget to draft a message to send to all attendees and other key stakeholders who were not present at the meeting. 

Sources:

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