Elon Musk's Algorithm

(It worked for him…)

1. Question every requirement.

Each should come with the name of the person who made it. You should never accept that a requirement came from a department, such as the “legal department” or the “safety department.” You need to know the name of the real person who made that requirement. Then you should question it, no matter how smart that person is. Requirements from smart people are the most dangerous, because people are less likely to question them. Always do so, even if the requirement came from me.

Then make the requirements less dumb.

2. Delete any part or process you can.

You may have to add them back later. In fact, if you do not end up adding back at least 10 percent of them, then you didn’t delete enough.

3. Simplify and optimize.

This should come after step two. A common mistake is to simplify and optimize a part or process that should not exist.

4. Accelerate cycle time.

Every process can be speeded up. But only do this after you have followed the first three steps. In the Tesla factory, I mistakenly spent a lot of time accelerating processes that I later realized should have been deleted.

5. Automate.

That comes last. The big mistake in Nevada and at Fremont was that I began by trying to automate every step. We should have waited until all the requirements had been questioned, parts and processses deleted, and the bugs shaken out.