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Discussion in 'Tesla' started by bwilson4web, Jun 6, 2018.
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Lots of interesting stuff from the shareholder meeting, lots of interesting discussion at the Tesla Motors Forum, starting on this page.
I'm eagerly awaiting IEVs News' article on the subject.
Most interesting to me is that Elon said they're planning on a compact car in about 5 years, which is directly contrary to everything Musk has said in the past about Tesla never making a less expensive car than the Model 3. I'm glad to see him talking about that, because it's fairly clear to me that the Model 3 is never gonna be a true "Everyman" car. It's too expensive. It looks to me like Elon's dream of factories producing 5x - 10x their current output (with associated reductions in cost) has been brought down to earth. That is, he is now looking more realistically at what can -- and can't -- be accomplished with automation. It looks to me like Elon is now looking at making a smaller and less expensive Tesla to achieve the lower price he originally envisioned for the Model 3.
Even more after the vote:
For better or worse, Tesla Inc (Nasdaq: TSLA) shareholders are staying loyal to visionary CEO Elon Musk. Shareholders voted down a proposal to separate Musk's chairman and CEO positions at Tuesday evening's shareholder meeting, and Musk doubled down on his promises that Tesla would be cash-flow positive and profitable by the third quarter.
Tesla shareholders voted down proposals that would have split the chairman and chief executive roles and replaced three long-time Tesla board members. The votes were a victory for Musk, who has faced intense scrutiny in recent quarters after Tesla has repeatedly failed to hit Model 3 production targets.
I think those shareholder are not thinking straight. They need some outside automotive talent in there now, let Elon keep being the visionary, and CEO, but get a board that has experience in the field, and can help them move forward. There needs to be someone in there that actually knows how to build cars and run a business.
Tesla has hired lots of execs with experience in Detroit and elsewhere in building cars. That's not a problem.
As I see it, the problem (or a large part of the biggest of Tesla's problems -- important or unimportant as they may be, depending on your viewpoint) is that Musk refuses to share power, and so is incapable of delegating authority. That may be fine for a small company like SpaceX, but for large manufacturing company rapidly growing in size, Musk's tendency to micromanage is a bigger and bigger problem. It doesn't do much good to have execs with experience building cars if Elon isn't willing to let them control certain aspects of production, especially quality control, which is where Tesla most obviously needs improvement.
Elon Musk has many strengths; his vision, his idealism, his indefatigable work ethic, and his willingness to put his money where his mouth is. But I think he's a very poor fit for CEO of a large company. I'd like to see him step back from the CEO position, and concentrate on a smaller area within Tesla. Nothing wrong with him continuing to be the "idea man", and certainly the Board will want to retain him as head of investor relations! But someone else should be making the day-to-day decisions on how Tesla is to be run, and which vehicles are to be green-lit for production and which moved to a back burner project.
One important thing that I noticed during the yesterday's shareholder meeting is he never lost his cool and also he made the gathering laugh and clap for him.
I worked at a small computer service bureau that doubled in size several times:
First doubling - they promoted from within and hired entry level people to fill in the gaps.
Second doubling - more work but they hired an executive from a former competitor.
Third doubling - they hired middle managers from former competitors and we learned why they were available. C. Block (i.e., Block-head) took over the operating system group and his introduction overhead showed an inverted pyramid with him at the balancing point. My first thought, that is unstable, will fall down and go boom. About this time, there was a falloff in quality as every senior operator did everything they could to get off the floor. In the past, they were the first line of service but they were so mistreated, they had to get some relief.
I saw the same thing happen in GE 10 years later. We won the big contract and were going great guns until Division HQ sent down 'experienced' managers. Suddenly the innovators and creators were put in cubes with piddly tasks. They soon found other jobs and the project all but lurched to a halt.
The same happened when Apple lost Steve Jobs and Apple went into the doldrums. They didn't get better until Apple hired him back.
My rule of thumb is when the creaters, the innovators, flee, time to find another job as that company is doomed. Headquarters or senior executives who come in and inject 'new' middle management soon reveal: (1) why they were available, and (2) for them it is just a job, not a mission.
If the established managers and supervisors are so good, d*mn it, make a Tesla competitor. At least GM made a Bolt, a thin competitor when they should have made an EV Corvette. Leave the 'experience' car builders in their own companies and make Tesla competing product. For example, the Jaguar I-Pace.
Musk has some serious problems, to start with he is very insecure. He is also a micromanager, and operates more as a dictator, then a leader. I know people that have had 1 on 1 conflicts with him, and he's a full on a$$ hole. He creates a lot of Tesla's problems with his lack of competence as a manager and a complete arrogance. Sometimes when I listen to him I think he drinks a full cup of his own Kool Ade every morning, because sometimes he is just completely detached from reality. Like yesterday when he said GF1 is nearly the largest building in the world now, and when complete will be by far the largest. I guess he has never been to Everett, WA where the largest building in the world is located. Right next to that very large building is another very large building that is also bigger then the current gigafactory.
Sounds a lot like Steve Jobs, General Patton, and the best GE manager I ever had, Dick Hicks who said in a GE War Room:
"Are your eyes naturally brown or are you full of fecal matter?"
An application software manager had reported 88% complete and then started missing scheduled completion dates by 1-2% each week. At four weeks late, he said 'We are 95% complete.' Dick Hicks said,"95% is not good enough! It is perfect! Ship it!" Getting the software out of the hands of the developers mean the integration and test team could finally figure out what works and doesn't.
I have worked for different managers and those who are true believers in their product are the best. The rest waste time on internal electro-political nonsense. I don't see Elon having anything but laser focus on the products that are his legacy so I'm willing to give him a pass. That he and his employees are on a steep learning curve, well sometimes you have to work for a living.
FYI, I remember him saying it is the third largest building but will be the largest when completed.
ps. I spent four years in the Marine Corps so I've known both good and bad leadership. Good leadership is not always popular but it is effective.
We call that old that old school management. Managers today are trained to be a leader, and team builder. You are not going to lead a team of millennials with threats, and high pressure. Its a different world now.. Great examples of modern CEO's are Mary Barra, Satya Nadella, Dennis Muilenburg, and Tim Cook... none of which are pushovers, and all get great productivity from their teams. None of these folks are micromanagers or insecure.
A lot of people said that back in the day, when Elon Musk took over Tesla Motors (as it was then called) and kicked out the co-founder and previous CEO, Martin Eberhard. It was Eberhard who was the original "idea man" for Tesla Motors; the man who came up with the vision for the company. It is to Elon's credit that he has faithfully followed Eberhard's vision for the company, and that is on of the reasons for Tesla's success.
Not to say your rule isn't a good general rule, Bob, but the question is whether or not it applies in this case.
The question be for us, I submit, is whether or not a person's management style is a good fit for the company, or not. Certainly Musk had a larger vision for Tesla than Eberhard did. If Eberhard was still in charge, then even if Tesla was still in business, it would likely have stayed a small boutique company like Morgan or Aston Martin, perhaps dreaming of becoming as big as Porsche or Jaguar someday.
But now, I think the question is whether Tesla has grown too big for Elon Musk. Several posts here have talked up his strengths, and I certainly don't want to deny those strengths. Musk is one of my heroes, not only for how he has made a success of Tesla despite the almost universal predictions of failure by most financial analysts, but also for his sometimes breath-taking successes at SpaceX.
So, not to denigrate Elon Musk's amazing abilities and accomplishments, or to deny his strengths, but I think there is a real question as to whether or not he's the right man to lead Tesla Inc. forward into the future, as it hopefully grows to a size to rival at least the Ford Motor Company, if not even larger auto makers.
Seems to me that's a problem with hiring the right people, not a problem with the concept of hiring from without as opposed to promoting from within. Capable upper management should be able to do both: identify the right people to promote from within, and also able to find new people to hire who will be an asset to the company. It's also a problem with upper management not being able to recognize when middle managers aren't an asset to the company, or being unwilling to fire them when needed.
I also blame the "American" management style of social segregation of upper management from the floor workers. Japanese management style has all levels of employees and management mixing together far more frequently. If there is a problem with a particular middle manager, then upper management is going to be made aware of it a lot sooner if they're rubbing shoulders with the floor workers every day.
The American management style of treating upper management, of the top executives, as if they're that much better than the lowest level employees, has also lead to the sometimes obscenely inflated salaries of so many American companies. In Japan, the difference between lowest and highest wages/salaries is much lower than it is here in the USA, and I think that's also a very good thing.
Now, that's not to say that Japanese management and compensation styles are not superior in every way to American. The Japanese have a particular weakness when it comes to ignoring a widespread systemic flaw in an industry, as the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster rather glaringly showed. There were very significant design flaws which in hindsight were quite obvious, but due to the Japanese management style, nobody in a position of authority to do something about it was willing to take notice of them, and get those flaws corrected. Of course, one could also point out that problem isn't confined to Japan, and can often be seen here in the USA too.
Frankly, I'm amused at all the "one-upsmanship" seen in arguments over which is the worlds largest or tallest building. It depends on what yardstick you're using.
The problem with the label "the largest building in the world" is it's so vague. How do you measure "largest"? Interior volume? Footprint? Floor area?
Wikipedia's "List of largest buildings" article puts Gigafactory One currently at #3 on the list of largest footprints. Of course not everything at Wikipedia is factually correct, but if someone wants to challenge that then I think they need to cite a pretty reliable source.
If Gigafactory One grows to the size Tesla projects, then it indeed will at that time have the largest footprint of any building in the world... assuming no building with an even larger footprint is constructed in the meantime!
The Wikipedia list does indeed put the Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington as #1 on the list of largest buildings by volume, but it's only #4 on the list of largest buildings by footprint.
Volume, is usually what I call the largest.. L x W x H GF1 will never catch Boeing, and remember boeing also has the composite wing center which also has more volume then GF1 just 75' away... Its just Musk blowing smoke again
In the last earnings call Musk also said Fremont was the largest auto factory in the world... Which Mercedes and VW might beg to differ on that, but I will stick with the USA... How about Spring Hill GM... 6.9M sq ft If I was Mary Barra I would send an exec out to correct Elon, and put him in his place.... but of course she does not have so speak in superlatives, because she is not an immature infant... http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/company_info/facilities/assembly/springhill.html?id=1528345479973
Old American designs in those reactors.
Green has a personal beef. Fine. But thing is Musk's vision is very pure in a good sense. He doesn't compromise on that. Most admired CEO on planet among CEO. Knocked Boeing, Mercedes, Lexus and BMW on their behind in no time. At this point seems as responsible to pushing the transition away from slavery inducing petrol as China. S dominates the top end and now 3 is showing the same pattern with the mid premium segment in the US beating BMW, Lexus and Mercedes again. Tesla has beat them for 6 years already at the high end. 30 million following on Twitter- doesn't use ads and the hypocrisy of that. Got the charging network going right. There is way way too much that he does right and there is no obvious replacement. His CFO came back and there are still a lot of people that have been their by his side from the start. Also he is way way ahead of any schedule other people thought was possible. Been a long time since he said Tesla is over valued, because it isn't anymore. Should be multiples beyond GM.
I think some people have the wrong sense of the guy. Noticed that he doesn't always demand the highest caliber mind or achievement, but seems to prioritize mission focus and dedication more along with certain human or genuine qualities. Does apparently suggest leaving meetings early etc. But the point is I think he falls out with people that are not totally dedicated to the mission and has probably zero tolerance for that because I am guessing it becomes a trust issue and they end up gone. I am guessing if you're going to be around him you better have pretty complete alignment with his politics and world view otherwise you won't want to be their. He also has seems to have very little tolerance for lack of humility which some people might find ironic but that is becomes of mission focus. Its a life and death struggle for him that is a big part of what gives him confidence. He wants soldiers in the trenches along side him every bit as dedicated. Guessing from pattern that he also doesn't have much tolerance for people who don't deliver on potential or promise and again any lack of focus may be perceived as lack of dedication.
The idea that people from the automotive industry that know something about cars should be over him is just plain stupid. He is kicking their a*sses because they don't know what they they know, they generally know how to build what hasn't been working. How would you get? People like the original crew at Google or Jobs? Where you going to find that? I really really don't believe in the great person bs,
but this guy is like a template, he is on fire he is an instrument to help others channel their enthusiasm. There are possibilities that could kick it up even a notch further but don't seem healthy. He is on the gas peddle like no one else. And for me right or wrong Tesla is about throwing off the yoke of slavery. Think of what that BS industry has done to the US in particular- US was never remotely liberal enough for as an adult but it wasn't hollowed out and corrupted by beyond inane petrol bs. The time has come for the idea behind Tesla and in practice that is to get ride petrol fuel-energy-slavery.
I forgot my favorite qualification for him. He isn't motivated by the money, money is a means to an ends and not an end in itself- which makes him truly rich in a sea of cash rich pretenders, he is not slave to money but someone who is free and who doesn't just accept the heartlessness of sales or accounting.
No personal beef... I do not have time for that... I just like to point out that Musk often stretches the truth, or you could say flat out lies.
Tesla is beating BMW? Dude, stay off the drugs... BMW 3 series is in the last year of production with a new model starting production next month to be exact... It it normal for sales to drop in the last production year for a car, but in the last 12 months BMW still sold more then 350K 3 series around the world, more cars then Tesla has sold in their existence. And 3 series is not even the best seller anymore... The X series is where the money is. Just the facts.. BMW 3 series is dropping in the USA, because people are waiting on the new model. Look at BMW chart, you can see the ebb and flow of sales with each refresh.
Musk has not confident, he's like an insecure kid in the way he handles management. He almost broke down and cried yesterday, and they have not even reached the difficult part of the ramp yet... Stay tuned the next 6 weeks...
Certainly Musk appears to be hyper-active, perhaps to the edge of mania considering the number and scope of the companies he runs. Having no financial interest in Tesla or Tesla products, I'm fairly sanguine about his personality and leadership style. By anyone else, his 'failures' are objectively impressive accomplishments.
We each have our 'rule of thumb' used to evaluate companies and the people that make them up. Retired, I can only reflect what worked during my professional career. Based on press reports (often requiring a skeptical eye,) I don't see Musk as being that much of a risk to his current projects.
@ David Green, no BMW is a legacy ICE brand. Model year recycle has nothing to do with its defeat, its been getting defeated on the 7 series for 6 years by Tesla, sales of that way down around the globe because of the S, same for Lexus and Mercedes. The S's are simply way way better cars than anything they offer. So get off the shill payroll.
I am not a fan of the model S, I would buy an S Mercedes, or a 7 series Beamer or an A8 Audi because I like true luxury.. But hey, I will save the earth from one more ICE, as I have already ordered an I-Pace, and building a new house that is going to get us as near to off grid for electricity as we can get. and figuring on having 2 EV's eventually.
I think the true luxury stuff is BS just as the idea that the M3 won't get thumped at the track by the top Model 3. German quality is way down. Nothing like a Lexus at this point is my sense of it. German luxury and non existent differences hasn't stopped the money as no object from choosing a Tesla for 6 years and a row over the German makes. I also see the German ICE machines as just plain inconvenient in comparison. Fuddling about with iknob or having to wait in line at the gas station regularly. Having to deal with way higher maintenance and the costs.
What they can't do at the top they won't be able to do at the middle. They are way way behind.
Yeah, I am super interested to see the model 3P go up against the BMW M3, I think the Tesla will get absolutely smoked by even the outgoing BMW M3, but I could be wrong for sure. I will bet on the new BMW M3 coming next year will beat whatever Tesla throws at it.
Actually I heard Jaguar is going to run the I-Pace around the Nurburgring... That may be interesting. I wonder if a sub 8 minute lap is possible?