Elon Musk: Inefficiency Might Get You Fired

by | Oct 21, 2021

In the spring of 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was looking to ramp up production of its Model 3 to 6,000 units per week. To help drive the company toward its goal, Musk sent out a lengthy company-wide email full of information and strategic directives. Lucky for everyone, that email was leaked to the public…and lucky for us, it contained some VERY relevant advice about productivity, avoiding inefficiency, communications, information management, and business process efficiency.

Elon Musk as he arrives to attend a meeting in Berlin, Germany September 18, 2020.

Specifically, here is the nugget of advice on which I’d like to comment:

A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is allow free flow of information between all levels. If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen. It must be ok for people to talk directly and just make the right thing happen. 

Doesn’t this make so much sense?

Especially now when employees can no longer count on working in the same office together—or even the same hours—the thought of having to navigate complicated corporate hierarchies via email and other forms of electronic communication to get stuff done seems downright pointless and mind-numbing. (Maybe you’re already feeling it!) If left unabated, you won’t have to wait long for this kind of inefficiency to metastasize into more profound business problems.

In fact, Musk deemed avoiding inefficiency so important that he also included this ultimatum:

Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the “chain of command.” Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.

Modern Information Management: The Antidote to Antiquated Chain-of-Command-based Inefficiency, Comms & Collaboration

In today’s business landscape, it’s essential for disparate departments and people to minimize the inherent process inefficiency of day-to-day problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. After all, most business challenges are interdepartmental and don’t align with organizational hierarchies. Why should solving them be constrained by such limitations?

Organizations must now revise work processes for the modern age of remote work.

Like it or not, knowledge is the basis of our economy, and it can travel at the speed of light—if we let it. However, a bullpen of directors and VPs are often standing in the way, creating inefficiency and bottlenecks that require more work and time to navigate.

In fact, we believe that information management systems and business processes should be structured in a way that facilitates the free flow of information between departments and levels, regardless of status or position. Building out those types of systems is precisely what we do here at Imaging Office Systems.

From cloud-based document automation and management and remote work infrastructure to eliminating paper from all your business processes, Imaging Office Systems offers a wide range solutions that can help you increase information management and business process efficiency.

The choice is yours: upgrade how you manage information and move away from top-down, hierarchical information management postures that follow the chain-of-command, or wait and watch those systems collapse under the weight of their own bureaucracies, missed business opportunities, and faster competition.

After all, you make it a point to hire smart people, right? Well, putting trust and power in their hands is critical to organizational agility and success—and a modern, efficient information management infrastructure is one of the best tools you can give them to do good work and make great decisions on their own.

We’ll employ a human-centered design process to first discover the information management and business process challenges that are holding you back. Then, we’ll create the optimal solution for your needs.

We are 100 percent agnostic on operating systems, application environments, and even existing public or private cloud integrations. We can connect, synchronize, and integrate different elements of your IT infrastructure, no matter its origins!

Very few companies in the world can offer this level of customization.

Final Words of Advice from Mr. Musk

It goes without saying that we are big fans of Elon Musk here at Imaging Office Systems, so here are a few final words of advice on productivity and inefficiency from that leaked email…

  • Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get off all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.
  • Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.
  • Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time. 
  • Don’t use acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software or processes at Tesla. In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at Tesla. 

We couldn’t agree more!