I think the media totally misunderstands Elon Musk.
One of the biggest challenges in new product development is understanding the customer. Most new products fail because entrepreneurs make assumptions or misunderstand what their customers want. They make products that people don't really want or need.
So how do you test your ideas to validate if you meet a core need or not? Maybe Elon's onto something after all?
Since purchasing Twitter, he has tested selling blue ticks for verified accounts, allowing more controversial speech, and reinstating suspended accounts. He’s already considering adding a payment app, bringing by Vine, charging for OnlyFans-style adult videos, and charging people for sending DM’s to high-profile users.
His product development style seems to be throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Maybe you could call this “Ultra Agile Development”.
At SpaceX, his competitors scoffed as he blew up rockets. But, he quickly beat out all of the entrenched incumbents to win major contracts with NASA and is now one of the top Space Technology companies.
Could he do the same at Twitter? Or, has Elon's previous success made him overconfident and haphazard in his approach?
IN AGILE DEVELOPMENT, YOU HAVE TO:
- Define the vision
- Start in a broad direction
- Make frequent product delivery a habit
- Learn and adapt
- Evolve towards the target.
Let's compare his approach to product development at SpaceX to his approach at Twitter.
To Elon's Credit. He's clearly defined his vision for both companies:
- SpaceX: Revolutionize space technology with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
- Twitter: We believe a key driver of a thriving public square is the fundamental human right of freedom of opinion and expression.
This is what Elon’s Ultra Agile Development looks like at each company:
- SpaceX: Build Rocket > Blow Up Rocket > Feedback in months > Learn and adapt
- Twitter: Twitter Pole > Deployment > Feedback in days > Give the public whiplash 😂
So the big question for me is can he succeed at making Twitter a thriving public square or not?
If he stays anchored in the vision and honestly evolves toward it without losing touch with the quintessential things that define Twitter for its customers.
I have no idea if he'll succeed or not. But it's a fascinating case study to watch unfold in real time. I think he's off track at the moment, but I wouldn't count Elon Musk out quite yet.