Business Advice from Elon Musk

Posted on by Larry

In the June 14, 2019, issue of Inc. Geoffrey James wrote about an email Elon Musk (CEO: Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Company) sent to his employees about a year ago.

“What gets lost in [Musk’s] public image, though, is that he’s a management theorist. Musk seems to approach running a business much as he’d approach a complex engineering project: figure out what works and do that, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.”

James continued, “[In his email,] Musk laid out, well, basically everything you need to know about management. Here’s my edited version:”

  1. No large meetings unless they’re value to the entire audience. Keep them short.
  2. No frequent meetings unless the matter is truly urgent. Resolve it; stop meeting.
  3. If you are not adding value to a meeting, walk out or drop off the call.
  4. Don’t use acronyms and nonsense words for objects, software or processes.
  5. Avoid any terms that require explanations because they inhibit communication.
  6. Communicate directly with individuals rather than through a chain of command.
  7. Any manager enforcing chain-of-command communication will be fired.
  8. Don’t follow any “company rule” that doesn’t make common sense.
  9. Ideas that increase productivity or happiness are always welcome.
  10. Contractors who can’t find an employee to vouch for them will be fired.
  11. Never do anything that would make a great Dilbert cartoon.

“I’ve heard and given some of that advice before (notably 4, 6, and 9), but the remaining 8 points are not just highly originally, they’re all “cut the Gordian knot” solutions to the knottiest problems that plague most companies. Seriously.”

One of the themes I’ve written about over the years is how to find work and run an efficient business. I thought these ideas are very valuable and worth sharing.

2 Responses to Business Advice from Elon Musk

  1. Mark Johnson says:

    Dear Mr. James, I had to Google search “Gordian knot.” (see #5 on the list)

    The suggestions to reduce meeting time and to avoid chain-of-command delays/ confusion are great.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Items 6 & 7 are dangerous. Cutting out layers is the anthesis of good communication and positive work flow.

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