Musk Mea Culpa

Elon Musk exits the Model X sports utility vehicle (SUV) during an event in Fremont, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

This is good to see. A couple of weeks ago I suggested that Tesla has issues and the major problem is that they’re thinking like software developers, not manufacturers.

So now Musk is admitting that maybe extreme levels of automation are a problem and that people are important. The fact that he sees this and understands the problem is a definite positive. In fact, anybody in manufacturing knows that people matter because they are the most flexible part of the whole operation. Discover some minor thing that needs to be tweaked and it can be hours or days of shutdown to reprogram the automation equipment, or a simple word in the ear of a few manufacturing workers. Extreme automation works well for processes that are tested to the point that they can literally be carved in stone and not changed much, if at all. Everything else does well from some human involvement.

Will this get Tesla to where they need to be? It’s impossible to say, but it’s a move in the right direction and an unexpected degree of modesty from an organization that until now has thrived on hubris.