Musk’s Five-Step Engineering

Elon Musk is a problematic character, but his accomplishments are extraordinary and listening to him speaking extemporaneously on anything is fascinating. Recently he gave an impromptu tour of SpaceX facilities and while going into detail about rockets he spoke about engineering generally, talking about a five-step program he was trying to inculcate people with. It was worth taking notes on – these are his five steps that if done in order prevent wasting time and effort:

1. Make your requirements less dumb

In other words, question the brief. Requirements must also be attributed to people, not departments (allowing requirements to vanish when no longer relevant rather than be permanent backlog fixtures)

2. Delete steps/parts/processes

The bias is to add things “just in case” – but if you're not adding things back after having removed them 10% of the time you're not deleting enough

3. Simplify or optimize

Most common mistake is to optimize things that shouldn't exist

4. Accelerate the cycle time

5. Automate


Everyone must be Chief Engineer

Everyone must understand the project as a whole to judge whether the decision on the part is the right one