SpaceX's 5-step design and manufacturing process

SpaceX’s 5-step design and manufacturing process

I like #1 the most.

1. Make your requirements less dumb. Your requirements are definitely dumb. It does not matter who gave them to you. It is particularly dangerous if a smart person gave 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.

2. Try very hard to delete the part or process. The bias tends to be very strongly towards adding a part or process or feature in case you need it, but you can make “incase” arguments for anything. You can always add a process, part, or feature later, but start by cutting anything that is not mandatory to achieve the objective.

3. Simplify or optimize. Don’t optimize in step one, because you might be optimizing for something that should not exist. You can spend a lot of time optimizing for things that are dumb and full of parts or features that are not needed. Get smart and refine things down first, then optimize.

4. Accelerate cycle time. You are moving too slow, go faster. But don’t do this until after you have worked on the first three steps. You can always speed up after you have strong, lean, optimized requirements.

5. Automate. Don’t do this until you know you are working on high value requirements that you need. You can automate too early and all you will have is automation of dumb requirements that provide results that are not needed.

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#1 is great, but #2 satisfies my basic desire to work smarter not harder, (sometimes defined as laziness).

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I agree that #2 is my principal philosophy in my work. Unfortunately, I see too many coworkers that, seeing that something doesn’t work quite the way they want, they feel the need to make things more and more complicated. I do just the opposite. I assume that the reason why something isn’t working quite right is because it’s too complicated.

Actually, I don’t think SpaceX necessarily invented this process. I suspect a lot of it was acquired from NASA:

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First three are sort of the KiISS principle. I only wish those principles were universal in “engineering” companies. I’ve been working long enough to know only a few follow them.

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