Barriers be gone: Elon Musk email sheds light on communication philosophy

Elon Musk

Managers take note: all efforts should be made to prevent the creation of silos, which impede the free flow of information and create an “us against them” mentality.

So says Tesla chief executive Elon Musk in an email posted via Inc., which sheds light on the billionaire businessman’s approach to communication.

Musk notes that of the two schools of thought on how information should flow within companies, the chain of command approach falls down. He argues, “while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company”.

Managers who opt for this approach “will soon find themselves working at another company”, Musk writes. “No kidding”.

Musk instead advocates a more free-wheeling communications approach.

“Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company,” he writes.

“You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens.

“The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.”

Musk further notes that a silo mentality “is unfortunately a natural tendency and needs to be actively fought”, and that company rather than departmental success should be the focus.

“We are all in the same boat,” Musk writes. “Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept.”

Never miss a story: sign up to SmartCompany’s free daily newsletter and find our best stories on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.


Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rohan Baker
Rohan Baker
4 years ago

“So says Tesla chief executive Elon Musk in an email posted via Inc., which sheds light on the billionaire businessman’s approach to communication.”

Right, like when he fired 700 odd staff via email/SMS without prior warning. What a guy. So innovative. Doesn’t have to look the staff in the eye and say “sorry, but your performance has let you down”. Instead he shirks all unpleasantness by sending them a generic electronic pink slip.

Such a communicator and people person. A true man of vision.

4 years ago

This clown doesn’t know his gluteus maximus from his elbow. He is a huckster, with no valid management qualifications, training or experience. All he knows about, apart from his appalling bent for self-glorification, is scrounging government funding then slashing it up against the wall on his daft projects. Any workplace must be totally poisoned by having him around and has, unavoidably, to be a complete zoo. It will only be a matter of time before, mercifully, he ends up behind bars.