A video is making rounds of Elon Musk giving a tour of the Starbase facility in Texas, where SpaceX is building its Starship rocket. Twitter user Trung Phan, analyzed this video and provides a breakdown of five-steps Musk follows when starting the design and manufacturing process. 

Our strategists reviewed the video transcripts and whilst we agree with most steps, we have added our views to each of these steps below.

1. Requirements should align with business outcomes

The requirements are definitely dumb; it does not matter who gave them to you. It's particularly dangerous when they come from an intelligent person, as you may not question them enough. Everyone's wrong. No matter who you are, everyone is wrong some of the time. All designs are wrong, it's just a matter of how wrong.

Our view: To make requirements viable, they should be tied to business outcomes. If a requirement does not lead to increased value, it should not be a requirement in the first place. Fast experimentation can ensure that requirements meet the customer demands.

2. Delete part of the process

If parts are not being added back into the design at least 10% of the time, [it means that] not enough parts are being deleted. The bias tends to be very strongly toward 'let's add this part or process step in case we need it.

Our view: For feature product and priority calls, frameworks like ICE, RICE and RICEO models can be leveraged. 30-45 session at the onset using RICEO framework will eliminate the need to add and remove things, as they would be driven by value in the first place.

3. Simplify or optimize

The reason this is the third step and not the first step is because the most common error of a smart engineer is to optimize something that should simply not exist...You have to ask the question [whether something should exist.] So everyone's basically, without knowing it, they got like a mental straight jacket on. They'll work on optimizing the thing that simply should not exist.

Our view: There are Agile & Lean principles that can ensure productivity. An example of this is the value stream mapping (VSM) process. When done correctly, VSM takes into account every step from customer order to producing a unit. Once in place, it can easily be identified where simplification and/or optimization are needed.

4. Accelerate cycle time

You're moving too slowly, go faster! But don't go faster until you've worked on the other three things first...Because if you are digging your grave, you don't want to dig faster. You want to stop digging your grave.

Our view: As highlighted previously, value stream mapping is all about cycle team. A clearly defined VSM, provides cycle team at each step of the process. Once crafted, acceleration steps can be very quickly implemented, whilst removing waste.

5. Automate

Then the final step is: automate it. Now, I have personally made the mistake of going backward on all five steps multiple times. On the [Tesla] Model 3, I automated, simplified and then deleted.

Our view: Any repeatable task, be it part of business process, production line or customer centricity, can and should be automated.