SpaceX, Elon Musk and Wardley Maps

I have seen these 3 videos of the Starbase tour with Elon Musk. Here video #1:

The reason was Pablo Bermejo pointed me to a specific sequence: this one in video #2, where he pointed to the PST model (Pioneer, Settlers and Town Planners model from gameplays proposed by Wardley Maps).

So after watching around 10 minutes of video, I started with video #1.


Elon reviews a series of principles they have defined (as doctrines) for all the work they are doing. These are the mentioned ones:

  • Step 1: Make your requirements less dumb: your requirements are definitely dumb, it does not matter who gave them to you. It is dangerous if a smart person gives you the requirements because you might not question them enough. Everyone is wrong, no matter who you are, everyone is wrong some of the time.
  • Step 2: Try to delete parts of the process steps. We are trying to run at tight margins! Follow the principle fleet partly lead the process.
  • Step 3, Optimize the processes. Important, it always is the third step. It’s a common error in engineering to optimize things that does not exist.
  • Step 4, accelerate your speed.
  • Step 5, automate.
  • Do not use units that makes the understanding of things harder instead of easier (newtons or Pascal).
  • You really want everyone to be Chief Engineer. It means everyone needs to understand the system at high level. To know when they are making a bad optimization.

Reviewing the doctrines table proposed by Simon Wardley in Wardley maps, I recognize these doctrines being indirectly mentioned or suggested in these videos:

Implementation of PST

I forgot about this. There is not so much information about how they do it, but at least I was able to do a simple map using the next 20 minutes of this section of the video #2.

First, remember the main principles and features of the Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners:

PST model from Wardley maps

These are the notes taken from the video:

Other notes

  • Fly a lot, so then you can Iterate, iterate, iterate and grab information about what’s happening.
  • Have a lot of redundancy.
  • Differentiate between linear inertia and rotational inertia.
  • Work in the factory is underrated and work in design is overrated.
  • Challenge about Raptor = how can we reduce the cost per ton to orbit (use of per ton unit to simplify the understanding to everybody).

Final thoughts

  • Does Elon Musk is aware of Wardley Maps?
  • Is SpaceX team aware of Wardley Maps?

The answers are the same: I have no clue. But there are so many similarities in the way they are acting and putting in place execution and strategy with regards the Wardley Maps principles.

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