Elon Musk’s Design Process Begins By Making Things “Less Dumb”
Twitter user Trung Phan analyzed a two-hour video featuring Elon Musk taking a tour of the Starbase facility in Texas, where SpaceX is building Starship, the tallest rocket in history.
During the video, Musk breaks down a five-step process he says he follows early in design and manufacturing. As with most things he does, his advice isn’t something you’ll read in just any business school textbook.
Here are five steps, organized and transcribed by Trung Phan, and edited here for length and clarity:
1. Make the requirement less stupid
“The demands are definitely stupid; it doesn’t matter who gave them to you. This is especially dangerous when they come from a smart person, because you may not be questioning them enough. Everyone is wrong. No matter who you are, everyone is wrong. the weather. All conceptions are wrong, it’s just a matter of how wrong they are. “
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2. Try to remove part of the process
“If the parts are not added in the design at least 10% of the time, [it means that] not enough parts are removed. The bias tends to be very strongly towards “let’s add this part or step to the process in case we need to”.
3. Simplify or optimize
“The reason this is the third step and not the first is because the most common mistake of a smart engineer is to optimize something that just shouldn’t exist. You must ask the question [whether something should exist.] So basically everyone unknowingly has a mental straitjacket. They’ll be working on optimizing what just shouldn’t exist. “
4. Speed up cycle time
“You go too slow, go faster! But don’t go faster until you’ve worked on the other three things first… Because if you’re digging your grave, you don’t want to dig any faster. want to stop digging your grave. “
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“Then the last step is: automate it. Now I have personally made the mistake of going back through the five steps several times. [Tesla] Model 3, I automated, simplified and then deleted. “
Watch an edited video of Musk breaking down these steps here.