Elon Musk 5 Step Process for Engineering-Manufacturing.
1) Make your requirements less dumb
Your requirements are definitely dumb. It does not matter who gave them to you.
It’s particularly dangerous, if a smart person gave you the requirements, because you might not question them enough.
Everyone’s wrong, no matter who you are, everyone’s wrong some of the time.
2) Try very hard to delete the part or process
The bias tends to be very strongly towards “let’s add this part or the process step in case we need it”.
If you’re not adding things back in 10% of the time, you’re clearly not deleting enough.
Whatever requirement or constraint you have, it must come with a name, not a department. Cause you can’t ask the departments, you have to ask a person and that person who’s putting forward the requirement or constraint must agree that. They must take responsibility for that requirement. Otherwise you could have a requirement that basically an intern two years ago randomly came up with and they’re not even at the company anymore. And actually there’s no one at the department that currently agrees with that.
3) Simplify or optimize
The reason it’s the third step is cause it’s very common, possibly the most common error of a smart engineer, to optimize the thing that should not exist. Why would you do that? Everyone has been trained in high school and college that you gotta answer the question, convergent logic. So you can’t tell a professor “your question is dumb”. You will get a bad grade. So everyone, without knowing it, they got like a mental straight jacket on that is they’ll work on optimizing the thing that should simply not exist.
There’s another important principle, which is that you really want everyone to be chief engineer. So if everyone is chief engineer means that people need to understand the system at a high level to know when they are making a bad optimization.
4) Accelerate cycle time
You’re moving too slow, go faster. But don’t go faster until you’ve worked on the other three things first. If you’re digging your grave, don’t dig it faster, stop digging your grave.
I have personally made the mistake of going backwards on all five steps multiple times. Literally I automated, accelerated, simplified and then deleted. Automating was a mistake. Accelerating was mistake. Optimizing was a mistake. We just deleted and just bypassed this $2 million robot cell as a complete pile of nonsense.