what is idea meritocracy and how does it relate to your work culture

What is idea meritocracy and how does it relate to your work culture?

Have you realized that in the workplace, it might seem that it is the place where great ideas die? Don’t you ever wish that there is a better way to nurture ideas instead of killing it? Fortunately, there is a guiding frame work.

Idea meritocracy

This concept has been introduced by billionaire Ray Dalio himself, of Bridge Water Associates which has assets under management of $160 billion. It focuses on cultivating a sort of Darwinian environment where the fittest survive, in this case – ideas. The company promotes independent thinking and deciding for yourself what is best after evaluating all the necessary facts. In order to do this, there is the concept of radical transparency and radical truth. You have to seek the real truth of any matter. The way to do this is by allowing anyone to challenge the idea regardless of seniority.

Take for example, senior executives of the company might implement a policy that was not appropriate. By having radical transparency, even the janitor would be given a voice to speak out against that policy provided that there are facts backing him. This way, the organization can self correct sooner than the usual sweep-it-under-the-carpet policy. This is freedom of speech taken to the extreme, but it is balanced. It is a self governing system provided the concept is supported by all employees. Anyone else could counter argue the criticism and in that way, only the best idea/policy is survives – basically the idea undergoes a stress test.

Making the shift

In your office, granted that you do not have such vast amounts of freedom of expression without suffering some form of retaliation. What is the scale of freedom of speech in your company? What could you do to kick start the shift towards the holy grail of a more open environment?

What can be done, is spread the idea meritocracy itself. Pitch the idea to senior leaders. Ask them what are their initial thoughts? Think of the benefits of shifting the culture to be more transparent and open. Through discussing the idea meritocracy culture and how the shift can be made for your company will be the starting point. The idea may be radical, but it does not mean that it must be implemented at lightning speed. Organizational change takes time and a midway can be obtained of slowly moving towards a more open culture. The first step to cultivate an open culture is to request that leaders not say, “no” to ideas before listening it out and giving themselves time to think through.

Perhaps senior leaders should lead by example where the culture at senior management should be open to criticism among themselves. It is far too naive to assume that radical transparency is automatic at the top. High powered executives thread carefully and suffer from trying to be politically correct as well. Take the action to introduce this concept and you could be a thought influencer in your company. Do not dismay if you are unable to change the company culture. Even the idea of increasing openness among your company leaders, would benefit you in the sense that poor strategic decisions that affect the workforce will be challenged earlier and die off sooner.

This is merely a short introduction of idea meritocracy, you can read further here.

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