SpaceX and Bureaucracy

In November, NASA announced it would be conducting a “cultural assessment study” of SpaceX and Boeing to ensure the companies were meeting NASA’s requirements of “adherence to a drug-free environment.” The Washington Post reported that officials had indicated “the review was prompted by the recent behavior of SpaceX’s founder, Elon Musk.”

Boeing is good at hewing to bureaucratic edicts issued by bureaucratic organizations but is bad at recovering rocket stages and decreasing the price of space launch. SpaceX is great at, you know, putting shit into space, which is what both companies are putatively supposed to be doing. For Boeing, compliance with infinite rules and regulations takes precedence over lowering the cost of space access.

From The most despicable sentences I’ve read recently

Beep generation

“No student argues from a position of strength anymore,” said Timothy Burke, 34, a history professor at Swarthmore College and the author, with his brother Kevin, of “Saturday Morning Fever,” about cartoons. “Nobody says, ‘I’m with the winner.’ There’s an atmosphere of neurotic cheerlessness on campuses. They all have a sense of their relative marginality. It’s very strange–you see these students who will be running the country soon, and they all claim to be oppressed. Everybody imagines a mainstream against which they’re opposed, but in fact, the mainstream doesn’t exist at all.”

From: Beep Generation (Note that the article is from 2000) Thanks Kyle!

Antifragile

Stability is important for effective execution so providing stable environments is an admirable goal for leadership. But that only holds as long as the stability is genuine and not manufactured. In periods of heightened risk and uncertainty I find it much more effective to be earnest about the situation with the team and help them be robust to the changes.

Instead of protecting your teams from failure, prepare them for it.

From Antifragile by Boz