The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz


With Marc and me, even after eighteen years, he upsets me almost every day by finding something wrong in my thinking, and I do the same for him. It works.

There are three key reasons why being transparent about your company’s problems makes sense:

  1. Trust

without trust, communication breaks. Telling things as they are is a critical part of building this trust.

  1. The more brains working on the hard problems, the better.

It’s a total waste to have lots of big brains but not let them work on your biggest problems.

  1. A good culture is like the old RIP routing protocol: Bad news travels fast; good new travels slow.

Too often the answer is that the company culture discouraged the spread of bad news, so the knowledge lay dormant until it was too late to act. A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news. A company that discusses its problems freely and openly can quickly solve them. A company that covers up its prolems frustrates everyone involved.