A Philosophy

I am sharing a memo written by the founder of Bridgewater to his employees. Bridgewater is the world’s largest hedge fund firm with $150bn in assets under management. Forty years later it is the fifth most important private company in the united states and has made more money for investors than any other hedge fund in the history.

The article which i am sharing is a memo written by the founder of the company in 1996 to its employees. Not very often you come across a philosophy of the company articulated so well.

Bridgewater is not about plodding along at some kind of moderate standard, it is about working like hell to achieve a standard that is extraordinarily high, and then getting the satisfaction that comes along with that sort of super-achievement. 

Our overriding objective is excellence, or more precisely, constant improvement, a superb and constantly improving company in all respects.

Conflict in the pursuit of excellence is a terrific thing. There should be no hierarchy based on age or seniority. Power should lie in the reasoning, not the position, of the individual. The best ideas win no matter who they come from. 

Criticism (by oneself and by others) is an essential ingredient in the improvement process, yet, if handled incorrectly, can be destructive. It should be handled objectively. There should be no hierarchy in the giving or receiving of criticism. 

Teamwork and team spirit are essential, including intolerance of substandard performance. This is referring to 1) one’s recognition of the responsibilities on has to help the team achieve its common goals and 2) the willingness to help others (work within a group) toward these common goals. Our fates are intertwined. One should know that others can be relied upon to help. As a corollary, substandard performance cannot be tolerated anywhere because its would hurt everyone.

Long-term relationships are both a) intrinsically gratifying and b) efficient, and should be intentionally built. Turnover requires retraining and therefore creates setbacks. 

Money is a byproduct of excellence, not a goal. Our overriding objective is excellence and constant improvement at Bridgewater. To be clear, it is not to make lots of money. The natural extension of this is not the you should be happy with little money. On the contrary – you should expect to make a lot. If we operate consistently with this philosophy we should be productive and the company should do well financially. There is comparatively little age- and seniority-based hierarchy. 

Each person at Bridgewater should act like an owner, responsible for operating in this way and for holding others accountable to operate in this way.