In Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future, Ashlee Vance writes about Musk’s management style.
“There can be no question that Musk has mastered the art of getting the most out of his employees. Interview three dozen SpaceX engineers and each one of them will have picked up on a managerial nuance that Musk has used to get people to meet his deadlines. One example from (Kevin) Brogan (who was employee No 23): Where a typical manager may set the deadline for the employee, Musk guides his engineers into taking ownership of their own delivery dates. “He doesn’t say, ‘You have to do this by Friday at two P.M.,’” Brogan said. “He says, ‘I need the impossible done by Friday at two P.M. Can you do it?’ Then, when you say yes, you are not working hard because he told you to. You’re working hard for yourself. It’s a distinction you can feel. You have signed up to do your own work.”
In effect, though, this ownership meant SpaceX employees putting in insane amounts of work to get the impossible done. Vance goes on to say: “One person putting in a sixteen-hour day ends up being much more effective than two people working eight-hour days together. The individual doesn’t have to hold meetings, reach a consensus, or bring other people up to speed on a project. He just keeps working and working and working.”
However, even those who admired such punishing schedules prior to the coronavirus pandemic, are now paying more attention to the opportunity costs of extreme forms of hard work. But, it’s not just about hard work, it’s also about teamwork, collaboration and partnerships. Is the purpose of work just to get work done, or do we find a deeper meaning in making connections with others, reaching consensus, and bringing other people up to speed? There must be other ways, better ways, to launch rockets.
Tell us what you think.
Have a great Saturday.
Here are three things we found interesting.
Human touch matters
In The Economic Times, Dinesh Narayanan explores the second-order consequences of the reverse migration that happened during the lockdown. Many workers who went back to their hometowns and villages might not return. This, in turn, will create labour shortages in many industrial centres. While the well endowed might go for automation, others will have to woo local workers with higher pay. Dinesh writes:
“It means factories will have to prepare for higher wage costs and amenities for workers. Currently, they get a maximum of Rs 350 per eight-hour day with lunch thrown in. Those who come from far states would reassess the return on effort. ‘All good employers are holding on to their migrants,’ says migration expert Irudaya Rajan. ‘All bad employers are burning their hands. This is the time when the good and bad employers will get segregated.’ Anecdotally, industrialists who have treated their workers well are the ones who are also seeing them eager to return.”
Create new habits
As people head back to work, without fast, cheap and accurate tests, effective treatment and vaccines, the only way to protect ourselves will be through masks, hand hygiene and physical distancing. But, these are not easy habits to develop, for while working from home, few wore masks. In Inc, Alisa Cohn says the onus is on the leaders to set the standards, and be role models. She writes:
“I coach the co-founders of a financial services startup in Berlin. During their first week back in the office, one of them didn't put his mask on one morning. By the afternoon, two-thirds of the team in office had stopped wearing theirs.
“You should explicitly talk about the new requirements and how you are reminding yourself to make these practices a habit. When you do forget, you can tell others about your lapses to call attention to their importance.”
It’s tougher than many imagine it to be
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