Sep 12 2021

Elon Musk at Starbase

In the following video, Elon Musk talks about his Five Step Process for designing and manufacturing complex systems. In this video, Elon is giving a guided tour at the facilities in Starbase, Texas where SpaceX is building Starship, the largest reusable rocket ship. Elon is applying this Five Step Process to building Starship but he alludes to how they came to be from his lessons ramping up the manufacturing process at Tesla.

You can read Elon’s ideas on design and manufacturing here: Five Step Process

Oct 4 2011

People Over Process

Processes are supposed to support people, not people support processes. A process should be documented in one document or checklist or directory or wiki or website that everyone has access to. Everyone should have a copy readily available. It should not be outlined in emails or sporadically over several documents across different locations. Always review the process and remove friction. Try to minimize steps when possible, centralize the information, anoint clear responsibilities, build in safety nets, empower developer to make decisions, let it grow as the team grows. Automate the process as much as you can, make reports people can use, make everyone’s progress visible. For some certain teams, there is diminishing returns for adding more processes.

May 24 2011

Manage Your Manager, Organize Your Organization

No matter what your position in an organization, no matter your title, or pay grade you often need to manage those you work with. Sometimes you need to manage your own manager, co-workers, and other resources. You might work with the boss that travels often and consistently sends you notes on features and requirements right after client demos. Maybe you may work with a project manager who keeps hand written half crossed out tasks scattered in a series of prints out. Worse yet, you work in a team that delegates work by forwarding and replying to essay length emails.

Highly effective development teams have a series of habits that they routine practice including using a version control system and bug tracking software. As an individual contributor, you also need to develop habits to help you team. Here is a short list of habits you can develop to help you succeed in a team environment.

  • Manage tasks in a single document.
  • Keep lists of work items.
  • Keep correspondence with other short and simple.
  • When email people about separate issues, separate issues in different bullets or different paragraphs.
  • When describing a problem, list possible causes and solutions.
  • Use screenshots and image editing software to help you illustrate your point.
  • Use screenshots and image editing software to help you illustrate your point.

There are a multiple tools to achieve this, you can use Outlook Tasks, Google Documents, Microsoft Project. An effective organization has every member using the best tools available to organize their tasks and those of the people around them. The key to success is to make it easy for yourself and those around you to achieve your goals.

Jan 25 2011

When Saying Yes Means Seppuku

I’m the kind of person that wants to say yes to everything. “Can we add this new feature without a specification in a day?” “Yes” Saying yes is so easy, and a lot of of the times doing the work is easy too. But the trouble with saying yes to quickly is that not everything is thought out, finalized, or formalized accordingly. Sometimes the best answer is not yes. Many times the easiest thing is saying yes, but it’s doing something right takes time and that time should can not be speed up. A key ingredient to any recipe is time. You need to give everything the time to simmer, like wise in a software project you have to have the time to test accordingly, and to follow established processes. Sometimes saying yes is negotiating kamikaze.